It is important that chronic snoring is distinguished from obstructive sleep apnea, due to the significant health consequences associated with the disorder. Only a specialized physician can determine if you have sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Chronic snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious medical condition. Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing or reduce the depth of your breathing by at least half during sleep for 10 seconds more. Some people do this hundreds of times an hour while they sleep, which is considered severe sleep apnea. This stopping or reducing the depth of breathing during sleep causes oxygen levels to decrease, depriving your body and organs of the oxygen they need.
Patients suffering from sleep apnea often experience:
- Chronic snoring
- Sore throat
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
Sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can result in:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Mood swings
- Lack of concentration and energy
- Unsafe driving
- Weight gain
More serious complications of sleep apnea include an increase in the risk of developing hypertension, heart failure, pulmonary diseases, stroke, heart attacks and cardiac rhythm abnormalities, which is what makes sleep apnea treatment so important to one’s health.
Some patients undergo sleep studies, which confirm the severity of their sleep disorder, thereby rendering treatment insurable. In most cases, snoring is caused by several anatomic factors that jointly block the airway during sleep. Correction of these factors, such as nasal obstruction, enlarged tonsils and abnormalities of the palate, is covered by insurance.