Snoring and Health Risks

Snoring and Health Risks

Many ear, nose and throat problems are associated with, or even caused by undiagnosed sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that affects more than twelve million people in this country. In many cases, an ENT problem may not get better until the sleep apnea is diagnosed and treated.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is the term used to describe breathing problems that occur during sleep.

People who suffer from sleep apnea may stop breathing or have their breathing interrupted hundreds of times during the night. Most people are not aware that they have a sleep problem. A bed partner or family member is often the first to notice.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and can affect anyone, at any age, even children. This condition often remains untreated because of the lack of awareness by the public and healthcare professionals. If undiagnosed and untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious, even life-threatening consequences.

What are Sleep Apnea Symptoms

  • Loud, disruptive snoring in most but not all cases
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Gasping, pauses or shallow breathing during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Morning headache
  • High blood pressure

Sleep Apnea in Children

Children of any age can have sleep apnea. In addition to the other sleep apnea symptoms, children with sleep apnea may be hyperactive or even be diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Why Does it Matter?

Sleep apnea causes an increased effort to breathe places stress on the heart, lungs, blood pressure and brain. Night after night sleep is disrupted. Sleep apnea makes it difficult to get the quality sleep that the body needs, resulting in fatigue or even symptoms of depression. This affects quality of life, work, health and even relationships. If it goes untreated, sleep apnea can lead to permanent heart and lung damage and even shorten one’s lifespan.