Snoring can be more than a nuisance or source of conflict in a relationship. It can be a warning sign of a serious problem or medical condition that, if ignored, could cost the offending sleeper his or her life. Following are five possible conditions that should encourage you to investigate the source of any loud sleeping in your household.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Also known as OSA, this clinical term describes what happens when the back of the throat relaxes and closes during sleep, causing obstructed breathing. The air that does get through causes a vibration within the throat that sounds like snoring. The notion of not getting enough oxygen while sleeping is bad enough. But as clarified below, the condition is also linked to higher risks of heart attacks and strokes for people with cardiovascular disease.
High Blood Pressure
The yin to the above condition’s yang, there is a higher prevalence of high blood pressure in people who have sleep apnea. Additionally, when a person starts and stops sleeping and breathing over prolonged periods, oxygen levels drop and hormones and adrenaline rise. Unfortunately, these hormones, according to Science Daily, contribute to high blood pressure.
The hormones released during bouts of sleep apnea can also be linked to irregularities in the heart, which may trigger a heart attack. More worrisome, a study published by the American College of Cardiology Journal in February 2000 stated that women who snore regularly have nearly twice as much risk of heart attacks and strokes than non-snorers.
People with heart failure are more likely to have sleeping disorders, including sleep apnea, because water retention (a side effect of heart failure) can appear in the lungs and throat. The heart condition may then be exacerbated by the troubled sleep, creating a possibly lethal situation.
If snoring is actually due to sleep apnea, it means the offender may be woken by irregular breathing 30 or 40 times in single hour, according to WebMD. This puts great stress on the body and mind, resulting in a lack of energy during the waking hours and possibly creating dangerous situations for the sleepy culprit; for example, the risk of life-threatening car accidents is notably higher in people with sleep apnea.