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Snoring – a silent problem

May 18, 2011

Had a rather unique experience last week where a patient was trying to deal with a snoring problem. Most people don’t consider the interpersonal effects that snoring can have on their bed partner. Usually, it is a man who snores and causes such poor sleep for his partner that a great deal of tension builds up that can lead to breakups or for the partner to sleep in another room. However, last week a young women asked me what she could do to “fix” her snoring as her husband told her that he couldn’t sleep with her anymore until she fixed this problem. She didn’t know whether she should see her MD, ENT, or if I had any other recommendations. This happens to be a area of strong interest for me.

Fortunately, I was able to give her some valuable advice that likely will help her with this problem. Since snoring can be a sign of medical problems, air way obstructions, sleep apnea, I recommended that she have a full exam by her MD and get an OK to have sleep study done to determine how significant her likely sleep apnea is–she had heard of sleep apnea but said she didn’t have it (most people’s response). Sleep apnea occurs as result of a collapse of the airway during sleep (much like snoring) such that one cannot breath. These events may last 15-60 seconds and usually cause one to stir and wake up so that breathing may resume. There may be just one such event per sleep cycle or as many as 60-100 per HOUR. These events significantly the quality of sleep and reduce the blood oxygen which in turn deprives our brain, heart, and other vital organs of life-giving oxygen. Obviously, long-term oxygen deprivation has a detrimental effect on our body. If her MD finds no obstructions and the sleep study shows only mild or moderate sleep apnea, her snoring could be controlled with a dental device that will be covered by her MEDICAL insurance. If she has obstructions or has severe sleep apnea, surgery and or other measures may be necessary to overcome this silent problem.

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2 responses to “Snoring – a silent problem”

  1. Soft or periodic snoring is expected . But, if your significant other complains about daily or ultra over the top snoring frequently, then it develops into a snoring disorder that you really need to correct.

    • admin says:

      I completely agree that soft or periodic snoring can be expected. However, the progression to louder and more regular snoring can lead to significant problems for both the bed partner and the person snoring. Increase in neck muscle volume, lack of tone in these muscles, a decrease in physical activity can lead to an increase in snoring. This in turn will increase the inflammation in the airway and further increase in snoring and minimally produce more sleep fragmentation and decrease in the quality of sleep for both the snorer and the bed partner.