Did you know that the life expectancy of someone who snores can be significantly less than for someone who does not snore? The short answer of why is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is not just associated with the old and overweight but all ages. It’s the condition where a person stops breathing many times during the night for 10 seconds or longer. It helps to worsen or bring on things like weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart disease and other conditions along with daytime sleepiness, mental confusion, lack of energy and lessened libido. There is at least a 70 % immediate association with snoring and sleep apnea. All the rattling and vibrations associated with snoring effect the nearby carotid arteries. The lining of these arteries change and cholesterol plaque adheres more easily to them. When these plaques break loose, stroke is often the result. The snoring sounds are caused by the vibrations of various tissues in the back of the mouth and throat.
Is there such a thing as simple snoring? Researchers are now saying no. If a person snores there is an anatomy problem in the airway which will eventually lead to full blown, killing, sleep apnea. Well-meaning dentists make anti-snoring devices, but if not trained in the medical model for diagnosis of sleep apnea, make what are called silent apnics. These people are at great risk of death due to the undiagnosed condition of sleep apnea. I urge all of my patients who snore to undergo a sleep study for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. The result may be an oral appliance properly fitted and tested or a C-Pap machine. The alternative is Russian roulette with death. We used to say, “he just died in his sleep.” Now we know it was probably snoring, sleep apnea, and its co-morbid partners.