In our everyday lives there is often an unknown entity lurking within our slumbering hours that may go unnoticed if living alone. The only instance we can recognize when we suffer from snoring is to have a professional diagnosis by a sleep specialist, or allow a relative and/or partner to give us the somber news if they’re sleeping nearby. Snoring is one of those maladies that can cause an avalanche of woes for the average individual, and it strikes anyone at any age without warning.
Yet what are the root causes and how can we understand which risk is worthy of treatment? Bottom line is every potential risk needs to be addressed. Heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, these are all detrimental to a person’s health and well-being, thus the initial signs of sleep apnea through constant snoring can’t be left untreated.
As a result, sleep apnea is oftentimes the diagnosis. It is described as an interruption in breathing patterns throughout the night, and can occur numerous times before arising in the daylight hours. Heredity factors play a role, poor dietary habits leading to excess weight also enter the picture, a distinction between the genders is something to consider, and a potential for enlarged tonsils or adenoids may also cause unobstructed airways when sleeping. If a person has an excessive overbite, a sleep apnea specialist will restructure the jaw through surgical measures to allow for ease of breathing. A deviated nasal septum may also lead to the development of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Another cause in women experiencing menopause are when the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone decrease dramatically. This lack of hormone production adversely affects the breathing centers of the brain, which also leads to OSA.
Clinical studies have shown that a large neck circumference can have an impact on a person’s ability to sleep. For men, a large neck circumference is defined as greater than 17 inches, and for women, 15 inches. Fat deposits form around the neck and the excess adipose tissue crowds out the throat and upper airways which impedes regular breathing during snooze time. And one final cause that’s rather apparent, but doesn’t get discussed as frequently is smoking. Smoking irritates the tissues of the upper airways and may lead to inflammation of the throat. Current smokers are 2-5 times more likely to develop sleep apnea than those who refrain. Since smoking is considered an independent risk factor, it can trigger less arousal during an episode of apnea. This could spell trouble for possible oxygen deprivation, breathing cessation, and longer bouts of sleep apnea.
Recognizing when any (or all) of these symptoms occur is the first step in treatment and subsequently identifying the necessary procedures to fix the causes of this very widespread sleep disorder.