Occasional snoring has practically no health risks. However, chronic snoring or snoring caused by a condition like sleep apnea can be risk factors for very serious health conditions. In this guide, we aim to help you better understand your sleep disorder, the risks it is associated with, and the steps you can take to protect your long-term health.
Health Risks of Snoring
Chronic snoring can cause sleep disruption, especially if you or a loved one snores loudly. Consistent sleep disruption can lead to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation impacts your awareness and reaction times. Even in cases where you don’t randomly fall asleep, serious sleep deprivation could result in harm to yourself or others.
In addition to the potential for accidents, long-term sleep deprivation negatively impacts many of your major organ systems, especially your brain. These risks will only compound if it turns out that your chronic snoring is the result of a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes your breathing to suddenly stop and restart while you sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form, and it is usually caused by loose tissue or excessive weight on the throat during sleep. That does mean that obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea, but it is definitely possible for a person in a healthy weight range to also develop the condition.
In many cases, the initial symptoms of sleep apnea are detected by the affected person’s romantic partner, as they often sleep side-by-side. Your partner may wake up to hear you stop breathing and suddenly sputter for breath. They will likely notice these signs in addition to chronic snoring.
If you do not have a loved one who shares a room with you, there are other ways to determine whether or not you should contact a medical professional for a diagnosis. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Waking up gasping for air
- Consistent dry mouth in the morning
- Consistent headaches in the morning
- Excessive irritability
- Daytime sleepiness
An examination and sleep study are often all that are required to identify sleep apnea.
The Risks of Sleep Apnea
There’s still a lot we don’t understand about the risks of sleep apnea. But recent research suggests the condition is a risk factor for other serious conditions.
Heart disease, acid reflux, and mental illness are all more common among people struggling with sleep apnea. The links aren’t fully understood, but scientists theorize that they are linked to sleep deprivation, a decrease in blood flow, and a decrease in oxygenation during sleep.
Addressing these potential risks is the primary reason that you should seek treatment for your sleep apnea. Treatments for sleep apnea, including CPAP, have shown the ability to decrease these risks. They work by giving patients adequate sleep and maintaining proper oxygenation.
Getting Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Treating sleep apnea is usually a joint effort between your general practitioner and a handful of specialists. What may surprise you is that one of those specialists is your dentist in Beverly Hills.
Oral devices continue growing in popularity. Why? Because they can reduce symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea without the need for loud, massive machinery. Of course, these much smaller devices may not work for everyone.
If your sleep apnea is severe or does not respond to an oral device, you will need to try another treatment method to ensure your safety and long-term health. With that said, getting your snore guards in Beverly Hills can be a great step towards better, safer sleep.