Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Snoring is not a laughing matter: It can be deadly

We’ve all been woken up or been kept awake by people who snore. Snoring during sleep is a fact of life: it happens and to most people it is annoying. But how many of us have actually thought of snoring as a potentially fatal condition?

Studies have shown that snoring is often times linked with a life-threatening condition called sleep apnea. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep apnea happens when people stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night. This stoppage in breathing can last for as long as 30 seconds. And when the brain realizes that it needs air, it sends panic signals to the body to wake it up. The Mayo Clinic website has a great video that demonstrates how this happens.

A researcher at Yale says this midnight arousal takes its toll on the body’s nervous system. He even compares it to being woken up at night because a “saber-toothed tiger was chasing you.” And for some people, this arousal can happen up to 30 times an hour. That doesn’t allow for a very worthwhile night’s sleep, which is partly why the effects from sleep apnea can be fatal.

The effects from sleep apnea can be very serious. Because the heart gets over-worked during the night, people with sleep apnea are more prone to have heart attacks and strokes than ordinary people.

A study by a researcher at the University of British Columbia in Canada compared 800 people with sleep apnea to 800 people without it. He found that the people with sleep apnea were five times more likely to get into a serious car accident than the others.

Who is most at risk for sleep apnea

Many websites will tell you that the demographic that is most at risk for sleep apnea is overweight men over the age of 40. But they aren’t the only people that can be affected by this condition. In fact, children and young adults can also be at-risk. If children have over-sized tonsils or adenoids, this can severely block their airway during sleep.

If sleep apnea is gone untreated in children it can lead to many problems. Children can have learning problems, developmental problems, and even a failure to grow. This is on top of the heart problems that it poses for older people with the disorder.

An article in The Post-Standard a couple of months ago talked about how children were becoming heavier. The study said that more and more overweight children are developing diseases and conditions that are normally seen in adults. It cited sleep apnea as one of the conditions that has seen an increase because of overweight children.

Treatments for sleep apnea

Most of the treatments for sleep apnea are quite significant. One of the most common forms of treatment is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure mask, or CPAP. This mask fits over a person’s nose and mouth and forces air down that person’s throat while they are asleep. Because the air-pressure is continuous, it doesn’t allow for the person’s breathing to get obstructed. A lot of people do not like to wear the mask because it limits their mobility in bed. And depending on how bad one’s apnea is, the air pressure can be quite strong and overpowering. This video on WebMD shows how a subject obtained a CPAP, and how it changed his life.

Other treatments include various types of surgery. Such as: a tonsillectomy if the person’s tonsils are deemed to be oversized by their doctor; nasal surgery to repair a deviated septum, clearing the nose to breathe freely; as well as numerous other surgeries.

There are some over-the-counter aids that have helped some people with less-severe forms of sleep apnea. Many people have noticed that professional athletes wear nasal strips to help them breathe better during the game. These nasal strips have also been known to assist in lowering snoring levels.

Famous People

There have been many famous people to have had sleep apnea. Reggie White is considered by many to be the best defensive lineman to ever play in the NFL. He had sleep apnea and chose not to wear his CPAP. In 2004, he died from a massive heart attack, and the doctors said his sleep apnea played a major role in his death. White helped lead the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl title in 1996. And he is also a Hall of Famer.

Other people living with sleep apnea are: Rosie O’Donnell (actress/ talk-show host), William Shatner(actor), Jerry Garcia (actor), Mark Calaveccia (golfer).

Not all snoring is apnea

It must be noted that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. It is believed by many doctors that between 30 and 50 percent of the population will snore at least once. This can be caused by a variety of reasons.

One reason why people snore and do not necessarily have apnea may be because they drank alcohol before going to bed. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the back of the throat and that can sometimes cause temporary apnea bursts. Another cause of snoring can be to due to congestion in the nose. If a person has a cold and cannot breathe properly out of their nose, then they’d have to breathe through their mouth. This could create vibrations in the throat causing snoring episodes. If a person tends to sleep on his or her back, it could lead to snoring. To learn more about ways to better your sleep, check out some tips at WebMD.


While not all snoring cases are cause for alarm, friends and family members should use their best judgment in spotting potential sleep apnea cases. If someone’s snoring can consistently be heard throughout the house, it is probably something that should be checked out by a Sleep Doctor. Spotting sleep apnea early will greatly reduce the risk for heart problems and other issues associated with the condition.


Kristin Gold said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristin Gold said...

First the Good Stuff- Pictures, video links, using Reggie White as an example.

Things to fix-
1) Add more attributions.
-"snoring happens to most people" says who???
-Who is most at risk- first paragraph needs attribution.
-"Doctors say 30 to 50 percent of the population will snore at least once" which doctors? When did they say this??? Where?
-Celebrites with sleep apnea, how do you know they have it? Where did you find that out?
2) Reword "how a subject" when talking about the mask, to "how one man." Saying subject makes him seem like he's not a person.
3) Reggie White- mention the Packers and Hall of Fame before you mention his death. It gives more context to who he is.
4) might want to add links to the Post Standard article (use the SU database to find old articles) and link to the American Sleep Apnea Association.
5) Possibly add a bigger catch at the beginning. You get right into it which is fine but maybe make it a little more dramatic to get the reader interested.
6) I like that you mentioned that kids can be harmed by it and it causes heart attacks and car crashes. You mention these things but really need to explain how sleep apnea causes these problems. You can't just assume people will know how these things happen. People are stupid, spell it out for them.

Good job though just add more links. Get rid of that weird picture thing at the top.

RAM said...

Hallo. I came across your nice blog about Stop Snoring. Snoring is a bigger problem in relationships than what many of my friends and experts had originally thought. Snoring is a real problem that at times can separate a couple within their own home and eventually break up a marriage or relationship without really knowing that snoring was the original underlying culprit.

Ashok said...

Sleep makes the mind and body fresh. The beginning for all the problems in the body is lack of sleep. If a person does not have proper sleep, then there is some problem with his mind or body. Sleep apnea is basically a condition that affects most people causing them to stop breathing for around 10-20 seconds as they sleep. The sleep apnea cannot be identified by the same person since it occurs during sleep. So if someone complaints about you for snoring, inform your partner or your family member who sleeps along with you to notice your sleeping condition during sleep. If you had sleep apnea, there are lots of medical procedures and devices to cure sleep apnea in a natural way.

Doris said...

Sleep apnea is indeed scary coz' most people who have this condition are not even aware that they have it. My friend, Shawn has a snoring problem. He asked me if I know someone who can help him like a specialist or perhaps a dentist. Memphis TN, where my sister is currently living suggested this widely known dentist. Memphis is just a 30 minutes drive from my place, that is why I was able to accompany Shawn for consultation. The specialist explained to us his condition and he then suggested the possible treatment. Well, I'm just glad that we are able to ask professional advise regarding his condition. Ted, thanks for posting this. You've posted relevant information here. I'll surely share this with my friend Shawn. Thanks again.

Elsa said...

It is better to stop snoring naturally, but if it does not respond to simple remedies, including non-surgical ones, should be discussed with a physician or sleep specialist.