What are the health risks of snoring?
Habitual snorers are at risk for serious health problems. For instance, obstructive sleep apnea is an illness that affects many chronic (long-term) snorers.
Obstructive sleep apnea creates several problems, including the following:
- Long interruptions of breathing (more than 10 seconds in adults) caused by partial or total blockage of the airway. People with serious cases of obstructive sleep apnea can have hundreds of total blockage episodes a night. This can cause the patient to wake up frequently without even realizing it
- Snorers with obstructive sleep apnea have a harder time getting deep restful sleep because deep sleep relaxes their throat muscles and leads to more blockage of airflow.
- Blood oxygen levels are often lowered in people with obstructive sleep apnea. This causes the heart to pump harder and blood pressure to rise. The result is a poor night's sleep, which leads to drowsiness during the day, and can interfere with the person’s ability to drive and work. Obstructed sleep apnea over a long period of time can lead to high blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart, with higher risks of heart attack and stroke