Diseases & Conditions Physical Health Sleep

Serious Snoring Symptoms

When I was in fifth grade, my friend told me that you lost 10 brain cells every time you snore. I’m not sure where she got this information, but if it were true, the 37 million Americans who snore on a regular basis would be in deep trouble. Luckily, snoring doesn’t result in a loss of brain cells. In fact, in some cases the only downside of snoring is that it can disturb your partner or roommate. Some quick fixes for snoring include:

  • Sleeping on your side to prevent your tongue from slipping back and blocking your airway
  • Nasal strips that adhere to the outside of your nose to help keep the passages open
  • Managing your weight, because being overweight can contribute to the problem
  • Using a saline rinse to wash out your nasal sinuses before going to bed
  • Avoiding consuming alcohol before going to bed

If none of these help to alleviate your snoring, you might have something called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. Approximately 50% of loud snorers suffer from this condition. OSA occurs when an airway obstruction or constricted airway passages impede breathing so much that the patient wakes up multiple times during the night. These awakenings are often short-lived and unknown to the patient, but they lead to daytime fatigue because they disrupt the natural sleep cycle. Untreated sleep apnea can result in cardiac disease, high blood pressure, decreased libido, and daytime fatigue so severe that it causes accidents. OSA can be mild, moderate, or severe.

To get an accurate diagnosis, it is recommended that you do an in-lab, overnight sleep study. A sleep doctor will then examine your results and determine whether or not you have OSA. If you are diagnosed with this condition, there are several treatment options available:

  • Using an oral appliance at night that brings the lower jaw forward and prevents the tongue from blocking the airway
  • Using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device to prevent your airway from collapsing
  • Undergoing surgery to create a more patent airway

Contrary to what my friend told me when we were kids, snoring won’t make your brain cells die. However, snoring can be an indicator of a more serious condition like OSA. If you’re at all worried about your snoring, talk to your doctor.


Article by Sylvia Bowditch

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