Don’t Ignore Your Snore:More than just an annoyance

- Anubhuti Poudyal

What is considered a social inconvenience could very well be a major body fallacy. Learn early on about this embarrassing thing called snoring.

Remember those sleepovers and camping trips where there was one person (preferably not you) who snored through the night making it impossible for others to even blink their eyes? I have met many such people, both girls and guys, who’ve ruined the trip for everyone because their snores could be heard down the hall into another room. While this annoying habit is not under the control of the “snorer”, the “snoree” is usually the one in distress. But the condition is hardly something that is to be mocked about. The social inconvenience can very well be a condition that needs rapid attention.

Why do we snore?
Snoring is caused due to obstruction in the air movement during sleep that causes the vibration of respiratory structures. The vibration could range from a mild murmur to a downright roar depending upon the severity of the situation. Almost all of us have experienced some form of snoring at one point or the other in our lives. It could be due to many reasons. Throat weakness, mis-positioned jaw, and obstructive air passageway are some of the reasons for snoring. Situational reasons could be consumption of alcohol or caffeine, or your sleeping position.

While you were sleeping
The obstruction of upper airway is called obstructive sleep apnea which is the most common kind of sleep apnea which causes considerable reduction in blood oxygen level. Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea which is characterized by shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep. It could go on undiagnosed for years but the symptoms, fatigue and sleepiness, might persist.

Learning about snoring and sleep apnea
Nirvana Fitness Center, Jawalakhel, organized a workshop on sleep apnea to make people aware of this condition. “A lot of people are unaware of sleep apnea even though it is a common sleep disorder which can be life threatening,” says Dr. Parakram Parajuli, who is a dental surgeon by profession. Treatment of snoring can be done through adjustments in jaw as well, which is also a field Dr. Parajuli is interested in. During his presentation on sleep apnea and snoring, he pointed out, “Snoring is considered deep sleep in our condition. But it is simply obstruction that causes lack of oxygen in the body. On top of that, it is something that accompanies obstructive sleep apnea, which is a much severe condition and requires immediate attention.”

What are its symptoms?
If people around you complain about your snoring, that could be your first clue! But identifying the symptoms of sleep apnea is not that simple. If you have restless sleep, drowsiness despite hours of sleep (excessive daytime sleepiness), and if people complain about your loud snoring, which might be followed by period of silence and gasps, then you might have sleep apnea.

How serious is it?
It is a potentially life threatening condition because, if left undiagnosed for a long period of time, it could cause heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe, but if nothing else, this condition messes with your daily life and can make you a major social outcast.

How do we treat it?
The treatment depends upon the severity of the condition. It could be as simple as behavior modification and as complicated as surgery. Behavior modification could be reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption. Weight loss can significantly reduce snoring. Applying oral appliances to reduce the obstruction is one minor move that can assist you for which you might have to consult your dentist. In case of severe sleep apnea, however, surgery and other sophisticated equipments are used for which you have to consult a doctor.

The saying “better safe than sorry” holds as much for this condition as for any other. Being a social outcast might not bother us as much as the onset of stroke or heart attack, both of which could very well be a part of our life, if not cared for properly. Consult your physician or dentist and see what they suggest. We hope you do not ignore your snore!

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