Why You Should Never Ignore Excessive Snoring

If you or a loved one snores excessively, count yourself lucky. Excessive snoring can alert you to a very serious sleep condition called sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you actually stop breathing multiple times in the middle of the night, depriving your brain and all of your other organs of oxygen and rest.

Not all snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, but if you do snore, Kimberly Bolling, MD, an expert internist, wants you to pay attention. She diagnoses and treats sleep apnea at her Bowie, Maryland, office.

Untreated sleep apnea raises your risk for serious complications, including heart attack and stroke. What’s the difference between regular snoring and sleep apnea? Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you wake up multiple times each night?

Think about how well you rest at night. Do you sometimes snore so loudly that you wake yourself up? Do you ever wake up feeling like you’re gagging or choking?

A “yes” answer to any of those questions could mean you have sleep apnea. The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), when some portion of your anatomy physically blocks your airway while you sleep.

Sleep apnea is especially common in women and men who are overweight or obese, because the extra fat in the face and neck area adds pressure to their soft tissues that can cut off airflow. Anatomical features that raise your risk for OSA include:

If you’re not sure how much you snore, or if you’re not sure that you're really waking up because of your snoring, you can download a sleep-tracking app to your phone. The app not only keeps track of how many times you awaken during the night, it can record your snores so you don’t have to rely on your partner’s reports anymore; you can hear them for yourself.

Do you feel tired during the day?

If you feel fatigued even after what seemed like a full night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea (even if you don’t snore). These episodes where you stop breathing, called apneas, keep your body from getting the restorative rest it needs to repair damaged cells and clear out toxins. 

Daytime drowsiness isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s a danger in its own right: You could fall asleep while driving or operating equipment. Not getting a full night’s rest may also interfere with your performance at your job or at school.

Lack of rest also affects the way your brain functions. You may find it difficult to concentrate or remember things. You might also feel depressed.

Do you wake up with a sore throat or a headache?

When you snore, you breathe through your mouth, not your nose. Waking up with a dry, scratchy throat could be a sign of sleep apnea. 

Morning headaches are another symptom typically associated with sleep apnea. Whether you just have one symptom or several, getting treatment for sleep apnea helps you breathe throughout the night so you wake up rested and refreshed.

If Dr. Bolling diagnoses you with sleep apnea, she either recommends a custom-designed oral appliance or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. The appliance holds your jaw forward while you sleep to keep your airway open. A CPAP mask connects to a machine that pushes air into your airway throughout the night.

Find out if you have sleep apnea and get the treatment you need to stay healthy by calling our Bowie, Maryland, office today at 301-352-0090 or by requesting an appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Bolling and the team here on our website.

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