Lots of people snore. Maybe you do. Perhaps your spouse lies hopelessly awake at night praying some miracle will just shut you up for a second. Sound familiar? It does to me too, and we hear it often, but you may not realise that snoring often precedes several serious health conditions.
Snoring might not strike you as grounds for a lifetime pay increase at retirement but heavy snoring could in some cases boost income by up to 24%. Heavy snoring can be a sign someone suffers from a condition called sleep apnoea or OSA and sufferers don’t just snore; they also stop breathing for short periods during sleep, which can have serious health implications.
According to Hargreaves Lansdowne, one of the UK’s leading pension advisers, some enhanced annuity providers are willing to pay a higher annuity income to someone with sleep apnoea. In their research, a man aged 65 could boost his pension annuity by up to £586 a year, by declaring his sleep apnoea together with just his height, weight and other personal details. This means more income for life – in other words a lifetime pay rise.
A better result however is to stop snoring through the use of a simple and inexpensive oral appliance – and as a consequence to live much longer. They are NHS Approved and recommended and don’t need a prescription or even for you to make a trip to your GP – they are available online.
The most important thing to understand is that snoring is a symptom. It is not normal, and it’s got very specific causes. There are many causes, including a weak jaw, congestion, excessive fat in the throat, weakness of the neck muscles and above all being overweight which is hard to avoid as we age.
Among the most common and most dangerous causes of snoring is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). It is seen most frequently in middle-aged men with heavy-set necks and shoulders, although anyone can have it and It occurs when the tongue and soft palate relax enough to make contact with the back of the throat, restricting airflow or stopping it completely.
And that’s the worrying part because sometimes OSA causes breathing to stop completely, which, if untreated, can cause major health problems.
When OSA causes breathing to stop, it’s called an ‘apneic event’ and this exerts stress on the heart, and the cumulative effect of lots of these events increases the risk of heart conditions. For instance, OSA patients are 30% more likely to have a heart attack and have greater risk of congestive heart failure due to pulmonary pressure build-up in the right side of the heart.
OSA is one cause of high blood pressure and when breathing stops during sleep, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure spike, which keeps blood pressure elevated throughout the night. This causes a very dangerous form of hypertension. Most people who suffer from hypertension get a bit of relief at night because their blood pressure falls whereas chronic snorers often experience high blood pressure for the entire 24 hours of the day.
In men, OSA can increase the risk of stroke by almost 300%. But more importantly, this isn’t just seen in all the severe cases as you can be at greater risk even if you have moderate sleep apnea.
The Real Danger
The real danger of snoring is that obstructive Sleep Apnea often goes completely undiagnosed, so many people don’t know they’re at risk.
This is because the symptoms of OSA occur during sleep, and lots of people, especially those who don’t share a bed with anyone else, don’t even know they snore. Further, people tend to view snoring as something amusing. So, if you’re not sure if you snore, here are a few other symptoms to watch out for:
- Excessive fatigue during the day
- Restless sleep
- Headaches in the morning
- Being confused in the morning
- Heart burn
- Sore or dry throat
All in all, snoring seems harmless but it interfere with your overall health. The good news is that snoring can easily be stopped, and OSA can be treated successfully, easily, and inexpensively, by using a simple oral appliance.