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An estimated 45 percent of adults snore, and while it’s a massive annoyance for whoever they happen to share a bed with, it could also be a sign of something more serious.
Snoring can be caused by all manner of things, such as allergies, smoking, having too much to drink or being overweight.
However, snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnoea, a condition in which someone stops and starts breathing in their sleep.
According to the NHS, symptoms of sleep apnoea include breathing stopping and starting, loud snoring, waking up a lot throughout the night and making gasping or snorting sounds.
As a result, you might wake up with a headache and feel tired and struggle to concentrate during the day.
It can be difficult to know if you have sleep apnoea - because you’re asleep while most of your symptoms occur - the easiest way to check, according to the NHS, is to ask someone to stay with you while you get some kip and keep an eye out for symptoms.
If you think you do have sleep apnoea, it’s important to see your GP as left undiagnosed and untreated it can be dangerous.
If your GP suspects you have sleep apnoea, you may be referred to a specialist sleep clinic for tests. These tests can show if you have sleep apnoea and how severe it is.
Chad Denman, D.M.D. and sleep specialist at Sleep Cycle Centre in the US, told WebMD that those who have untreated sleep apnea could be at a higher risk of death.
He said: “Sleep apnea and death are directly related.
“People who struggle with obstructive sleep apnea have a 30 percent higher risk of heart attack or premature death, with the mortality rate peaking around age 55.”
He went on: “Sleep apnea is related to a host of other medical conditions, like heart disease, thyroid disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. All of these medical conditions can cause death, so a patient suffering from sleep apnea can die as a direct result of sleep apnea (not breathing) or indirectly through a variety of medical conditions.”
Fortunately, effective treatment is available - if mild, no treatment may be required, but if more severe, those with sleep apnoea could be treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
A 2020 study published by ERJ Open Research, found that across a 30 year span those who used a CPAP machine long had reduced mortality while also lowering the occurrence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.