Don’t Ignore the Snore

Snoring is pretty common in Topeka; about 40 percent of Kansans snore at least occasionally. Most people consider it annoying (especially if their partner is the one sawing wood) but harmless; some even ridicule the snorer. A little empathy and concern are warranted, however; snoring is often a sign of a serious sleep disorder that can cause severe health complications. It should never be ignored!

Why Do We Snore?

Woman sleeping on sofa

Snoring is the sound caused by tissue in the airway vibrating while we breathe. This can be the result of inflammation from allergies or viral infections; a physical obstruction; or anatomy.

Who snores most often?

A large uvula or deviated septum can cause tissue around the tonsils and roof of the mouth to become loose and floppy, sagging to the point that it blocks the airway passages. Snoring is most likely to occur in those who are male, overweight and over the age of 40.

Is all snoring harmful?

Snoring isn’t always harmful, but there are specific warning signs that can point to an underlying health condition. The particular sounds you make when snoring hold important clues: steady, light snoring that is rhythmic in nature is pretty common and usually harmless.

How can you identify a problematic snore?

But snoring that is loud and erratic often indicates a bigger health issue, especially if its pattern is to grow increasingly louder before coming to a sudden stop, or it is accompanied by choking or gasping.

Often the person snoring sleeps right through all this, so it’s essential to enlist the help of a spouse or sleeping partner to pay attention to what your snoring sounds like. Chances are, they already have a pretty good idea!

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep disorders are quite common; anywhere from 50-70 million Americans experience a sleep disorder of some sort. One of the most common (and serious) is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Individuals with OSA experience periodic disruptions in breathing throughout the night.

These breathing pauses can last for ten seconds or longer and might occur as often as several hundred times a night. They cause a reduction in oxygen flow to the bloodstream, increasing the risk for a number of severe medical problems including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

What are the complications from OSA?

Even before these serious complications occur, OSA causes poor quality sleep; repeated breathing pauses prevent an individual from achieving restorative REM sleep, leading to daytime fatigue. This can cause memory and concentration difficulties and increase the risk of an automated accident due to falling asleep at the wheel. Work performance is impacted and personal relationships may suffer.

Is treatment common?

OSA frequently goes untreated because few Topeka residents are aware of their condition. Aside from constant tiredness during the day, there are few signs of sleep apnea. You might awaken with a dry mouth and headache, but are likely to be otherwise blissfully unaware of the physical and mental dangers you are facing. The earlier your condition is diagnosed, the sooner you’ll receive much-needed treatment.

Sleep Apnea Treatments

The most popular treatment for OSA involves continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Patients are given a mask to wear over their mouth when sleeping; this is attached via tubing to a machine that delivers gentle bursts of air pressure, preventing your airway from collapsing. This keeps you breathing throughout the night and greatly reduces the risk of complications.

Not everybody can sleep comfortably hooked up to machinery. Other options might include oral appliances, nasal breathing strips or surgery, depending on the severity of your condition.

When should you see an ENT?

If you snore loudly enough to keep your partner awake, we suggest scheduling an appointment with a Topeka ear, nose and throat doctor to evaluate your snoring—especially if any of the other symptoms mentioned above are noted.

A sleep study, either at-home or performed in a lab, will help confirm whether you are suffering from a sleep disorder and is an important tool in coming up with a treatment solution. Don’t delay; your health (and your partner’s sanity) depend on it!

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Our Topeka Area Audiologists Office Locations

Topeka
920 SW Lane St., Suite 200
Topeka, Kansas 66606
785-233-0500

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