Sleeping is a vital component required for normal functioning of the body. It has been concluded that humans spend about 25% to 35% of their lives sleeping. Adequate sleep is necessary for providing rest to the body and the brain. It also helps in overcoming the stress of everyday life. Snoring can affect the quality and quantity of sleep, which in turn can lead to other medical issues. Snoring may also indicate presence of other serious medical conditions, which if left untreated can lead to serious complications, including death.
Can you Die from Snoring?
As shocking as it may sound, the answer is yes. Snoring does not get medical attention in cases where the patient may think it is nothing to worry about, or when the patient is unaware of his or her snoring habit. Snoring is caused by obstruction of the nasal airway while sleeping. Snoring is often associated with a medical condition called as sleep apnea, which if left untreated can cause death. The most common symptoms associated with sleep apnea, besides snoring, include:
- Memory loss
- Headaches in the morning after waking up
- Dry mouth
- Interrupted breathing while sleeping
- Generalized fatigue.
If the above mentioned symptoms are noted with snoring, it is advised to consult a physician or a sleep expert immediately. Sleep apnea can cause reduced flow of air to the lungs, which worsens over a period of time and can even cause complete obstruction of air causing death from restricted breathing. It has also been seen that, snoring can indicate presence of other serious health issues associated with obesity and fatty deposit in the arteries of the person causing narrowing of arteries. This increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. This also worsens the condition of elevated blood pressure. People experiencing heart attack while sleeping die almost instantly. Snoring also increases the chances of gastroesophageal reflux, which causes backward flow of stomach juice into the food pipe and the throat. This can cause chocking, if the stomach content flows into the air pipe while sleeping.
A study done by the John Hopkins University has shown that, men (between age group of 40 years to 60 years) affected by sleep apnea are twice as likely to die as compared with others without sleep apnoea. It was concluded that the possibility of death is about 3 times for both genders, if affected by sleep apnoea. As snoring is commonly seen with sleep apnoea, the possibility of having sleep apnoea should always be kept in mind upon noting snoring.
Snoring in any form should not be taken lightly and should be evaluated by a physician as early as possible to rule out any serious issues. Even light snoring can indicate serious health conditions such as elevated blood pressure, obesity, cardiac issues and of course sleep apnoea. Diagnosis and treatment involves obtaining a detailed case history from the patient as well as from anyone who sleeps in the same bed or room as the patient. Specialized tests such as sleep study are often conducted for further evaluation. Snoring before death is often loud with frequent pauses in breathing. Snoring should be treated as a serious condition and should be treated at the earliest.
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