I was recently sitting with some friends at a BBQ and the subject of snoring came up. The wife of one of my friends was complaining about his snoring. One of my other friends who knew that I treated “sleep” issues chimed in and asked me what my thoughts on the subject were.
This is some of what I shared. Snoring used to be considered just a social inconvenience, if not down right funny and embarrassing. The truth couldn’t be more different in reality. As an example, recently a study was released listing snoring as a higher risk factor for heart disease than high cholesterol. Further, it is known that heavy snoring in the absence of any other signs or symptoms is a predictor of sleep apnea.
To understand snoring let’s consider an analogy. Think of a river that is deep and strong with good water flow – it appears calm and sounds quiet. Now think of a river that has a lower water level or poor water flow – the water becomes turbulent, rough, and sounds noisy. Air into your body can be thought of in exactly the same. When the flow is strong and unobstructed there is no noise and when it is compromised that changes and noises show up. If the airflow is compromised enough it can actually lead to a person not breathing at all.
Not breathing is referred to as sleep apnea and is part of a complex continuum of disorders with very serious consequences for a person and their well-being/overall health. There is a dramatic increase in risk for heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, car accidents, depression, pain, and many, many other negative outcomes.
So we can see that snoring is actually a health concern, and often a BIG one at that. To find out if it is a problem it needs to be MEASURED. There is a truism in life that states - if it is measured then it is fact, otherwise it is an opinion. In my practice that means a level III ambulatory home test. That is a fancy way of saying we look at oxygen levels, heart rate, body position, effort required to breathe, apneas (times you stop breathing), hypopneas (times you are only partially breathing), air flow challenges, among other parameters. Once your biometrics are accounted for then a trained professional can help you understand the level of concern.
Fortunately there are treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea including custom dental appliances made by an appropriately trained dentist. If you or someone you know snores – ask an appropriately trained dentist for a consultation, today. It is important.