How Is Snoring Related to Sleep Apnea?

About 40% of adult men and 24% of adult women are habitual snorers. Chronic light snoring is a sign of Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) and can affect the overall quality of your sleep. On the other hand, heavy snoring is a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a severe sleep disorder. OSA is a risk factor for many dangerous and potentially deadly health problems.

What Causes Snoring?

Obstruction of the airflow from the mouth or nose to the lungs causes the sound we call snoring. The vibration of the tissues of the airway creates this noise. People do not like to talk about their snoring habits. Many are too embarrassed to seek treatment because of its social stigma.

Snorers often prefer to buy over-the-counter remedies than to request the assistance of a healthcare professional. While this may work for some people, there are many cases when snoring is a symptom of a serious health issue. Online remedies to curb snoring may do snorers more harm than good.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and How Is It Related to Snoring?

People who suffer from sleep apnea experience very shallow breathing or repeated interruptions in breathing while sleeping. One of the signs of sleep apnea includes disrupted breathing which can occur hundreds of times per night. Obstructed breathing causes the body to attempt to provide better airflow by tensing the throat muscles. This tensing creates snoring.

Those who suffer from sleep apnea do not complete the regular rejuvenating sleep cycles. Instead, breathing stops in mid-cycle for about ten seconds for up to 60 or more times in one hour. As a result, the brain and the body are oxygen starved. Oxygen deprivation creates conditions for other chronic or fatal diseases.

Sleep Apnea and Cancer

If your snoring is a symptom of OSA, you may be at greater risk of developing and dying from cancer. In a longitudinal study of government workers, researchers found that those who had breathing difficulties at night were 2x as likely to die from cancer compared to people with no sleep issues.

In another study, researchers from Spain discovered that patients who suffered from severe forms of sleep apnea had a 65 percent increased chance of developing any form of cancer. Researchers point to oxygen depletion as the primary contributing factor. They discovered that the greater the oxygen starvation, the higher the odds of developing cancer.A study published in 2012 sheds more light on the connection between sleep apnea and death due to cancer. When your body doesn’t have sufficient oxygen, it will form new blood vessels as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels will also feed the cancer cells of growing tumors with nutrients. Consequently, tumors grow and invade the body more quickly.

Other studies were also able to link sleep apnea with cancer. Currently, more than 28 million Americans suffer from OSA. Suffice to say they are at greater risk of developing cancer.

What are the Signs of OSA?

Be on the lookout for the following signs if you suspect that your snoring is a symptom of OSA:

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Existing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or insulin resistance
  • History of cardiovascular disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, early dementia, or cancer
  • Depression, irritability, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or erectile dysfunction
  • Morning headaches
  • Decreased interest in sex

If you experience obstruction of the airflow or the symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea, better consult a medical professional such as a dental sleep specialist immediately. Receiving a proper diagnosis should help you get the appropriate treatment.