According to the Mayo Clinic, half of adults snore. Snoring is a loud, hoarse sound that occurs when airflow through the mouth and nose becomes obstructed as you sleep. Most times snoring is normal, such as when you have a stuffy nose from a cold or sinus infection. Loud and excessive snoring, however, can be a sign of a more serious health problems.
Conditions that Cause Excessive Snoring
Excessive snoring is a primary symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Other health conditions can cause excessive snoring, such as:
- Nasal deformities such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps
- Large adenoids and tonsils (most common among children)
- Bulky throat tissue (commonly in obese individuals)
- Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue as a result of aging, alcohol consumption or using certain sleeping medications. When these muscles are too relaxed, they can collapse and fall back into the airway.
- A long soft palate or uvula (the hanging tissue in the back of the mouth).
Health Risks From Excessive Snoring
Excessive snoring is not something you should “just learn to live with”. It can adversely affect your performance during the day when you need to be at your best. Prolonged snoring can have the following effects on your health:
- Snoring makes your heart worker harder during a time when it should not have to. This can cause high blood pressure and increases your risk for heart disease.
- Your quality of sleep suffers when you snore. Your snoring can affect other people in your house who cannot sleep because you are snoring so loud. The body cannot recharge and function properly without adequate sleep.
- In addition to snoring, partial or total airway obstruction causes pauses in your breathing as you sleep. These breathing pauses prevent the body from getting the oxygen it needs. These pauses also kick the body’s defense mechanisms into gear, and awaken you so that you can start breathing again.
When You Should Call a Doctor
Schedule an appointment with a qualified ENT doctor as soon as possible if your excessive snoring is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Gasping or choking
- Morning headaches – a sign of breathing pauses during your sleep
- High blood pressure
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Trouble concentrating or focusing
- Depression or mood swings
Snoring can lead to daytime drowsiness and fatigue, impaired memory and concentration, and delayed response in situations that require an immediate response. Call your doctor to get you back to restful sleep and to improve your quality of life.
Excessive snoring is treatable. The sooner you talk to a doctor, the better.