How Snoring Affects Your Health - Great Health Guide
How Snoring Affects Your Health

How Snoring Affects Your Health

Written by Dr David McIntosh

Snoring. It is a noise made because there is problem with airflow through the nose and throat, into the windpipe and the lungs. While many people think of it only as a social problem and they get sick of hearing their partner making noises, it is important to discuss how snoring affects your health and realise that snoring is a sign of airway obstruction.

Think about it in this way. Snoring is a noise made because you are choking on the inside. It is a restriction of airflow that negatively affects your health. If someone was to come into your bedroom every night and start choking you, you would not tolerate this for too long. Snoring is the same thing though, at least in terms of the disruption to your breathing.

So why do people snore?

Well before we get to that, one very important point about snoring is, that snoring in adults and snoring in children is very different. When it comes to children, the research shows very convincingly that children who snore or even just mouth breathe, are in big trouble, far more than adults are. We talk about sleep apnoea sometimes, which is where you stop breathing at times during your sleep, but while that is a sign of the beginning of health problems in adults, sleep apnoea in kids is a sign of an even worse problem.

So, let’s talk about children first.

In the mainstay, most children will snore because of a problem with their tonsils, adenoids, or hay-fever (that itchy runny-nose may be a sign of more than just a nuisance). Children who snore are more likely to grind their teeth, sleep walk, sleep talk, wet the bed, have dark circles under their eyes, wake up tired, be cranky and grumpy during the day, have trouble concentrating, have behaviour problems, have symptoms suggestive of ADHD, mouth breathe, be quite emotional, struggle at school, have memory problems, develop problems with their listening, are more likely to get ear infections, can have high blood pressure and the list goes on.

What about snoring adults?

The stereotype is the big fat man (because ladies do not snore, right?) who falls asleep without much effort and is quickly snoring so loudly that the neighbours are starting to complain. While being overweight is certainly not a good thing for many reasons and it certainly increases the chances of snoring and sleep apnoea, but it is not the only cause.

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In adults, we check for a deviated nasal septum, i.e. the middle part of the nose that is internal and prone to getting broken from trauma such as from fighting, playing footy and the like. Other conditions that contribute to snoring are allergies and sinus problems, large tonsils again, swollen tongues and swelling of the oesophagus due to reflux of food while lying down. With adults, snoring is more of an issue from a social point of view, as their bed partner tends not to be interested in putting up with a noisy partner for too long.

In adults, apart from the social issues, snoring affects your health quite significantly. We are talking about high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, visual loss, memory problems, car accidents, poor concentration, headaches, jaw joint problems and the list keeps going. Impotence is on the list too, so men should take it seriously!

What to do about this?

First and foremost, do not ignore it. Go check on your children. Listen and look for 10 minutes every night, for a week. Look for mouth breathing, snoring and all of the other problems listed above.

If you’re an adult and your partner says that you snore and stop breathing, it is not to be ignored. Get a referral from your GP or dentist to see an ENT to check your airway. The sooner things are found, the better your sleep and health will be.

Remember snoring affects your health, so take action today.

Author of this article:

Dr David McIntosh is a paediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist with a particular interest in airway obstruction, facial and dental development and its relationship to ENT airway problems and middle ear disease. He also specialises in sinus disease and provides opinions on the benefit of revision of previous sinus operations. Dr McIntosh has written ‘Snored to Death’ and can be contacted via website.

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