We are all familiar with snoring. It happens to some people occasionally and others every night. Usually, the snoring person continues sleeping while keeping his or her bed partner awake. In the past, it was considered little more than an aggravation for the person kept awake. However, recent medical research has revealed a multitude of reasons that snoring should be taken seriously.
If you snore, you probably know it, and if your bed partner snores, you are certainly aware of it. What you may not know is why. The actual sound of snoring is caused by soft tissue vibrating as air passes over it. This usually occurs when the airway is restricted. Sometimes soft tissue, nasal swelling, or other factors have made the airway a little too small, and air is passing through but causing vibration. In other cases, snoring is not the primary problem, but a symptom of a more serious condition, known as obstructive sleep apnea.
An apneic individual actually stops breathing for several seconds. The blood oxygen level drops until it causes a panic reaction in the brain, triggering a chain reaction of events in the body. Adrenaline is released, which increases the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as partially awakening the individual. As the sleeping person transitions from deep to light sleep, breathing resumes, usually accompanied by loud snoring.
Eye-opening research has demonstrated a link between sleep apnea and a wide range of medical conditions, from fatigue to cancer, and even stroke. Although there is still much to be learned about apnea, the problem is believed to be twofold:
The most dangerous aspect of sleep apnea is that many afflicted individuals are unaware of it. Usually, people do not fully awaken during apneic events. Even if they do wake up, breathing has resumed by then, so they are only aware of snoring.
Fortunately, sleep apnea can be controlled. For many people, a small, comfortable oral appliance is sufficient to prevent apneic events and annoying snoring. Call (903) 708-6116 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Bruyere to learn more. Our office is in Longview, just a short drive from Hallsville.