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Snoring is one of the most annoying sounds for people to attempt to sleep through. This overshadows the fact that snoring isn’t taken as a sign of potentially serious health issues. From your heart to your stomach, snoring can be the catalyst for problems like thick arteries and irregular heart beats.
Snoring can make it difficult for you to get a good night’s sleep, as noise and blocked air pathways end up waking you from the deep REM sleep that everyone needs to feel well rested. If you’ve been snoring heavily for a long time, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel drowsy even if you sleep for seven or eight hours.
A study that followed the sleeping habits of more than 600 people over the course of a decade provided quantitative evidence that people who feel sleepy during the day tend to have an increased risk of a traffic accident. In fact, if snoring is preventing you from sleeping well, the effects can be similar to intoxication due to alcohol, decreasing concentration and reaction time.
Researchers focusing on the negative effects of snoring ended up discovering that the vibrations caused by snoring also has an effect on vital blood vessels. This study showed that snoring causes damage to the carotid artery. More than 900 patients were monitored for sleep patterns between 2006 and 2012, with the data showing that the thickness of the carotid artery increased.
Surprisingly, when they checked the outcomes of their patients according to other negative health stressors, including smoking, high cholesterol, and hypertension, the researchers found that snoring was a more influential factor for this type of thickened artery. A thickening of the “carotid intima-media” – the inner two layers within the artery wall – can result in very serious health problems when left untreated.
A variety of cardiovascular issues can arise with snoring, perhaps none more dangerous than the effect that it has on the heart. Snoring and sleep apnea data shows that those who don’t suffer from this issue are half as likely to develop heart disease of all type. When treated with CPAP or other methods, the risk ends up becoming reduced to the same levels as non-snorers.
The risk of arrhythmia, in particular, has been shown to increase with snoring, resulting in an irregular heartbeat. Over a long period of time, arrhythmia may end up being complicated by an enlarged left atrium, which is one of the four chambers of your heart, responsible for collecting blood transported from the lungs and pumping the blood to the rest of the heart.
When throat pathways don’t allow air to pass efficiently due to snoring and blockages in the throat, some patients end up suffering from a type of acid reflux disease. As your throat struggles to open and close properly while you attempt to breathe, you inadvertently cause changes in pressure that affect your esophagus all the way up to your stomach. These pressure changes end up having a siphoning effect on your stomach acid, which ends up getting pushed up into your throat.
This creates chest pain and other acid reflux issues that end up becoming another hurdle to overcome when attempting to secure healthy, restful sleep.
Snoring is more serious than an annoyance that you can drown out with ear plugs. If you find you or a loved one suffering from frequent snoring, you should seek an ENT expert with the experience to apply the best possible solution.
Houston Sinus & Allergy specializes in treating nasal and sinus conditions and providing allergy care. Our practice is committed to helping you find long term relief from your symptoms. Dr. Nguyen is a Board Certified ENT – Head and Neck Surgeon with extensive training & experience in diseases of the ears, nose & throat.
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