Growing up, one of the literally hundreds of things I was self-conscious about was the potential that I snored. Did anybody ever tell me that I snored? No. I just suspected that I did, and everybody was too embarrassed for me to let me know. I have since moved past the embarrassment part of my snoring concern, and have settled deep into anxiety over my health. Your snoring may signal health problems — did you know that? Well, now you do. Join me in me being nervous about it. Please.
Apart from sounding awful and causing your bedmate or significant other to suffer (I have dated several snore-monsters, and wow, did I sleep poorly when we were occupying the same bed), snoring is a sign of "upper airway resistance." It's caused by vibrating soft tissue in your nasal or throat passage, so if you're part of the 45 percent of men or 30 percent of women who seriously snore, know that it is not a sign that you are a dragon-troll; however, it does signal that your nighttime breathing is not as effortless as it should be.
Study after study after study has shown that sleep deprivation pretty much derails the human body, and snoring almost always results in diminished sleep quality. Get sleep. Get good sleep. But while you may know what issues your snoring is causing, you may not be aware that snoring can actually be a symptom of a number of health issues. Here are just a few of them; if you recognize any of the symptoms, you may want to go get yourself checked out by a doctor.
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep, and snoring is often a sign of this more serious issue. Obstructed Sleep Apnea is pretty much what it sounds like — that is, it's when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep due to an obstructed airway. People who suffer from untreated sleep apnea can stop breathing hundreds of times every night, leading to long-term health issues including high blood pressure and heart strain. If you consistently wake up feeling tired, and know that you snore, you may want to consider visiting a sleep specialist.
2. Oversized Tonsils or Adenoids
Tonsils are clusters of lymphoid tissue located in the back of the throat, while adenoids are similar tissue clusters in the back of the nose — thus, it makes sense that, if they're too large, they may be causing your snoring. For people for whom snoring and sleep apnea is a serious, life-affecting issue, getting their tonsils or adenoids removed may alleviate their breathing problems.
3. Fluctuating Weight Issues
People who are overweight may struggle with bulky throat tissue, which can obstruct air flow at night. Unfortunately, poor sleep quality and weight gain tend to chase each other in a vicious cycle. Sleep deprivation can contribute to weight gain, and weight gain can contribute to sleep deprivation. It should be noted, though, that a person's weight does not automatically cause them to snore.
4. Sinus Issues
Snoring may signal temporary sinus issues — a sinus infection can cause your nasal airway to swell, while allergies can cause nasal congestion — or more serious, long-term issues. A deviated septum, which occurs when the thin wall between your nostrils is displaced to one side, can obstruct airflow on one side of your nose and requires surgery in order to be properly fixed.