If you know someone who snores don’t laugh at his nocturnal habit, especially if you care for him. For, snoring could be sign of serious trouble. Says Michael Neeb, director of the Mercy Sleep Disorders Centers at St. Charles, St. Ann, and Mercy Children’s hospitals, “snoring could easily be an indicator of something bigger that could lead to serious health issues if not treated on time.” It generally indicates an obstructed airway and requires medical intervention.
Sleep apnea, a serious medical condition, affects 5 to 10 per cent of the global population. And this is only one of the 80 known sleep related disorders among them are restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement and insomnia.
“Sleep apnea is the most common disorder,” Mr. Neeb said. The only way to diagnose it is through a formal sleep study which monitors breathing during sleep.
Patients of central sleep apnea lose the drive to breathe due to absent or weak signals from the brain during the night. The cause is usually serious cardiac or neurological condition, such as congestive heart failure or a stroke.
In the more common obstructive sleep apnea despite the airway being blocked the effort to breathe is visible, with the diaphragm and the chest wall continuing to move up and down. Short pauses in air flow recur periodically when the muscles and nerves that keep the airway open during the day relax at night. This results in a drop in oxygen levels that can aggravate cardiovascular consequences over time resulting eventually in high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.