About 90 million Americans snore. That’s a lot of noise each night. And, if one of the 90 million snorers happens to share your bed and keep you up at night, it’s no laughing matter. Snoring can cause unpleasant daytime symptoms such as excessive sleepiness, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, irritability, and depression. So, even if you feel like pushing your beloved snorer out of bed so you can get some rest, it may be prudent to take him or her to see a doctor to address the underlying issue that’s causing all that noise.
Under All Those ZZZs
Snoring can be caused by a number of conditions, including:
Certain nasal structures (e.g., polyps, tonsillitis, deviated septum)
Moreover, about half the people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea, a common disorder, in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while asleep, which often starts again with a loud snort or choking sound. Sleep apnea can cause fatigue and should be treated because it increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other health problems.
Take a Closer Look
How your partner snores may reveal what’s making them snore. For instance, if your partner’s mouth is closed, it’s possible that the tongue is causing a problem. If snoring occurs with an open mouth, it may be related to “floppy” tissues in the throat, which can make noise when air is expelled. If snoring occurs while your partner is sleeping face up, and it’s mild, a gentle nudge and a change in the sleep position may alleviate the problem. If your loved one snores in all positions no matter what, there may be a more severe underlying medical issue that needs attention.
What You Can Do
First and foremost, have a serious discussion about snoring with your partner and suggest he or she see a doctor to address the issue.
You may also want to suggest some healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
Asking you doctor or pharmacist if any of the medications you take (prescription or over-the-counter) could be contributing to snoring
In the meantime, you can invest in earplugs and a fan or white-noise machine to keep on your side of the bed; these devices may help you get more sleep. And remember: while a lack of sleep due to the noise of snoring can be a problem for you, snoring may have a treatable underlying health issue that your partner can address with the help of a medical professional.
So don’t let snoring remain simply a nightly nuisance. Bring the topic into the daylight and the doctor’s office, so that everyone can rest more easily.
Reviewed by Verne Pitman, PharmD., who is a Senior Director in Clinical Sciences at Pfizer Inc.
Snoring can lead to more than separate beds. It can be a risk factor for stroke and heart attack – even more so than smoking or high cholesterol. On Dr. Phil, Pfizer Chief Medical Officer Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D., talks to a couple facing the snoring struggle.