News / Health

Snoring More Than Just a Nuisance, It Can Take Your Breath Away

Michael Ballard, a retired government employee, is at a sleep lab to have his sleep evaluated
Michael Ballard, a retired government employee, is at a sleep lab to have his sleep evaluated

Multimedia

Ayesha Khalid

A huge part of the world's population of the world snores during sleep, something that is usually made fun of by others.  But in some cases, snoring is not a laughing matter.  It can often be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that can have serious health consequences.

Just ask around. Very few people will admit that they snore.  Still, 45 percent of the world's adult population snores occasionally and 25 percent snores very regularly.

"It is most commonly believed that snoring is caused by vibration of the uvula or the soft palette against the back of the throat, but it's probably multifactorial," noted Dr. Stanley Chia of the Washington Hospital Center.

Chia is an expert on snoring-related surgeries.  He often suggests to his patients a procedure known as a "pillar implant."  This is a small piece of braided surgical fiber that is inserted into the soft palate.

"There are usually at least three of them placed at any one given time," added Chia.  "What happens is over the course of about three to five weeks after the procedure, the fiber causes the surrounding inflammatory reaction and that causes the stiffening of the soft palate so that the snoring lessens."

Besides pillar implants there are several other surgical procedures to address snoring, though Dr. Chia believes none of them provides a complete cure.  He says this is the reason very few snoring-related surgeries are done at his hospital.

Also there is no shortage of ads for anti-snoring aids in the American media.  Some of which are effective while others not as much, contrary to the manufacturers' claims.  However, the medical community does not think snoring is a serious problem in itself.

"Snoring itself is not a serious medical problem but sleep apnea can be life threatening," explained Chia.   "[Sleep apnea] is frequent disruption of an individual's sleep caused by regular episodes of breathlessness."

Dr. David Gross, director of the sleep study center at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, notes this can have serious health consequences.

"The upper airway cuts off at night so the person, while he is breathing normally in the day time, when he goes to sleep at night his muscles get all relaxed and cut off.  And this can happen over and over again 60 to 100 times an hour.  That's bad for your heart and your oxygen levels can be very low," said Gross.  "So those things can make the person tired and have low energy, bad concentration, fatigue during the day, but also it can cause strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure and other problems like that."

But the question is, how are snoring and obstructive sleep apnea connected?

"Most of the people who snore don't have sleep apnea but most of the people with sleep apnea snore, especially very loud snoring," added Gross.

Gross says a sleep study is crucial for the diagnosis of sleep apnea, because its symptoms are generally very non-specific.

"There are patients who have talked to me who really think that they have sleep apnea and they don't and vice-versa," Gross noted.  "There is just no way to know for sure without some sort of a sleep study."

Once it is diagnosed, sleep apnea is usually treated through the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device.  The CPAP blows pressurized air into the patient's nose and mouth - at a pressure level set specifically for him or her.  Many people don't like to use the CPAP, however, because its face mask can be uncomfortable at first.

Gross says that since obesity is one of the main reasons for sleep apnea, wherever there is an increase in the epidemic of obesity in the world, sleep apnea usually follows.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid