Snoring is a common concern but can be bothersome to the individual and their loved ones when severe. While most cases of mild snoring are nothing to worry about, chronic snoring could be a sign of an underlying condition that has real consequences in waking life. It is important to determine whether you or a loved one’s snoring problem is an isolated issue or because of an underlying medical issue.
Why does one snore?
There are several factors that can contribute to snoring including alcohol, obesity, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. However, snoring could also be the cause of a sleeping disorder like sleep apnea or upper airway obstruction. You must find out the actual reason for snoring because of the adverse effects of any underlying conditions. For example, sleep apnea has been linked to high risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and strokes. Snoring with sleep apnea can cause daytime drowsiness, headache, mood swings, and other bothersome symptoms.
What are the different levels of snoring?
Some resistance to air flow results in mild snoring that is not associated with any sleep disturbance. When this resistance to air flow increases, the effort it takes to breathe adequately may awaken you, but this is not so severe that it causes a decrease in your blood oxygen.
When air flow resistance increases even more, any effort to keep up with the resistance for maintaining the required blood oxygen increases too, and this could significantly decrease or stop the airflow. This situation results in fragmented sleep when you wake up often during the night. Medically, these events are known as obstructed hypopnea (reduced breathing) or apnea (absent breathing).
How can you evaluate your snoring?
While most people know they’re snoring due to complaints from their partner or family member, others may not even realize they’re doing it. An ENT specialist can perform a complete physical examination in addition to documenting your medical history. There will be questions about your sleep patterns, symptoms of feeling sleepy in the daytime, day naps and the frequency at which you wake up at night. The physical examination includes assessing your BMI and body weight as well as your nose and throat anatomy. The doctor views your nasal, oral, and throat cavities to determine how narrow the airway is.
In order to determine if there is an underlying medical condition, you will have to undergo a sleep study. This could be done at home or at a sleep lab where a technician helps to perform the study. If you suffer from snoring, contact our office and schedule your consultation with one of our ENT specialists at AOO.