Over the last couple of years, researchers have discovered a wealth of information about snoring and its potential consequences and complications. Snoring is caused by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is now known to be the most common culprit behind daytime sleepiness, or somnolence.
“Often people will come into my office complaining of loud snoring. Further examination usually yields sleep apnea,” said Roger Hirchak, VP of Medical Services at Shell Point Retirement Community.
An overnight sleep study can establish the diagnosis and also categorize the severity. The elongated palate in the upper airway (the tissue that hangs down in the back of your throat) typically causes disturbed sleep patterns. As a result, OSA can present headaches, drowsiness, and daytime fatigue. Some patients frequently awaken with shortness of breath or a sense of suffocation. Most often the patient is unable to get a good night’s sleep because of frequent episodes of upper airway obstruction.
“The good news is that there are a number of different treatments solutions that include tonsillectomy, weight loss, or even changing your sleeping position. Often lying on your back will induce periods of apnea and lying on your stomach will make that disappear,” said Dr. Hirchak.
OSA is most prevalent between the ages of 40 and 65 years of age and may affect up to 10 percent of men over the age of 40. Some of the risk factors that make this more common include obesity, various facial anomalies or an underactive thyroid. If you feel extremely tired during the day or have a history of loud snoring, you should mention it to your primary care physician.