When To Be Concerned About Snoring: Insights from Sleep Experts

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Snoring is often considered an annoyance, but it may also signal underlying health problems. Here’s when to be concerned about snoring, according to sleep experts.

Statistics from the Sleep Foundation indicate that approximately 57% of men, 40% of women, and 27% of children in the U.S. snore. While occasional snoring can be benign, it may be indicative of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious condition linked to heart disease.

Factors contributing to snoring include nasal congestion, smoking, alcohol or sedative use, family history, gender, body type, body position, and age.

When To Be Concerned About Snoring

Not all snoring is a cause for worry. Light, sporadic snoring typically doesn’t require medical attention. However, loud snoring occurring at least three times a week, coupled with a disrupted breathing pattern, choking, gasping, restless sleep, morning headaches, and excessive daytime fatigue, may be signs of OSA.

OSA, which affects 30 million Americans, often goes undiagnosed and is associated with high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.

Potential Health Risks

Sleep specialists emphasize that snoring, even without OSA, can lead to health issues. It falls under “sleep-disordered breathing,” meaning it reduces air intake, potentially causing long-term health consequences.

Emerging evidence suggests links between snoring and cognitive problems and cardiac issues, such as high blood pressure and arterial abnormalities.

For non-OSA-related snoring, lifestyle changes can help reduce its severity. These include avoiding sleeping on one’s back, using wedge pillows to elevate the upper body, refraining from alcohol and sedatives before bedtime, quitting smoking, and losing weight if necessary. Over-the-counter anti-snoring devices like mouthpieces or mouth guards may also help.

If sinus congestion is a concern, consulting a physician is advisable to avoid potential side effects from decongestants. For individuals with OSA, doctors typically prescribe CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, which regulates airflow and effectively treats snoring.

While snoring is common, it should not be overlooked. Chronic snoring can affect sleep quality and disrupt a partner’s sleep. If snoring becomes problematic, seeking guidance from a doctor or sleep specialist is a wise step, as home sleep studies can quickly identify underlying issues.


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