Snoring might not seem like a dramatic health risk. In fact, besides an annoyed sleeping partner and perhaps a dry, sore throat in the morning, many patients don’t experience noticeable consequences of snoring, and therefore ignore it. The truth, though, is that snoring and its related disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, can cause a chain of reactions that can gradually increase your risks of several health issues. Snoring and sleep apnea are indications that you are not receiving enough oxygen in your sleep. In the case of sleep apnea, that lack of oxygen is accompanied by repeated interruptions to your sleep that make it impossible to rest soundly through the night. When left untreated, sleep apnea can be bad for your overall health in a number of ways, each growing worse the longer sleep apnea continues.
The Mechanics of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Snoring is the sound of air squeezing past a shrunken path – it is often caused by oral and throat tissues collapsing into and constricting the airway. The bigger the obstruction, the louder the snores. In minor cases, changing positions while you sleep may clear the path and alleviate the noise. In cases of obstructive sleep apnea, however, the obstruction will grow until the airway is completely blocked, preventing you from inhaling and exhaling at all.
OSA episodes are marked by increasingly-loud snoring as the airway grows clogged, then complete silence as the airway closes and breathing stops. After several moments (sometimes more than ten seconds), the brain and body will panic enough to wake and start breathing again. These episodes can repeat themselves hundreds of times in a single night, and their frequency prevents patients from falling into the deep REM levels of sleep needed to rest.
More than Just Lost Sleep
Over time, prolonged lack of deep sleep will begin to manifest as symptoms of sleep deprivation, including daytime fatigue, an inability to concentrate, an irritable temper, and more. Coupled with repeated oxygen shortages, the dangers of sleep apnea can affect your systemic health drastically, increasing your risk of issues such as;
- Chronic hypertension
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Complications with procedures and/or healing
- Illness due to a weaker immune system
- and more
If you snore chronically or suspect that you might have sleep apnea, then speak with your dentist about your options for treatment. You can schedule your next appointment by calling our Spring, TX, dentist’s office on Cypresswood Drive or in Auburn Lakes at 281-320-2000.