Do you snore loudly? Are you the target of bad jokes or middle-of-the-night elbow thrusts?
Loud snoring can be a sign that something is seriously wrong with your breathing. Snoring can seem funny, but it is actually no laughing matter. During sleep, snoring indicates that your airway is not fully open.
An estimated 10% to 30% of adults snore. For many though extremely loud nightly snoring is the first indication of a potentially life-threatening disorder; obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS).
In people with OSAS, the sleep-related narrowing is so great that breathing becomes difficult, as if they were breathing through a floppy wet straw. The brain senses breathing is difficult and increases the effort to breathe. Increased effort to breathe briefly awakens the brain in order to stiffen and open the throat. Once awake, with a fully open throat, efforts to breathe decreases. As breathing effort returns to normal, you resume sleep and the cycle of falling asleep, throat narrowing, raised effort to breathe and then arousal from sleep repeats itself. This cycle can disturb sleep dozens to hundreds of times each night, but most of the awakenings are so brief that they are not remembered.
If you have OSAS, you may not get enough oxygen during sleep and probably don't sleep soundly. You may suffer from daytime sleepiness that affects your work and/or social activities, and may even lead to car accidents. OSAS can also put you at risk for high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack, or stroke.
What are the Warning Signs of OSAS?
- Loud snoring.
- A pattern of snoring interrupted by pauses, then gasps, reveals the sleeper’s breathing stops and restarts.
- Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, irritability, depression, loss of interest in sex. Men may complain of impotence and women may have menstrual irregularities.
- Headaches or nausea upon awakening.
- Frequent nighttime urination or even bedwetting.
These problems usually appear slowly over many years. If you have any of these symptoms, a sleep specialists can help detect and diagnosis these sleep-related breathing disorders and proper treatment can prevent or reverse the potentially life threatening results of OSAS.
What happens if I am not treated for OSAS?
The most common complaint of people with OSAS is excessive daytime sleepiness. Reading and driving an automobile can often be difficult because these monotonous activities make sleepiness harder to fight. The sleepiness produced by OSAS is known to cause an increased number of automobile accidents.
Some Consequences of Untreated OSAS