Snoring Can be Dangerous…To Others

International Features


Warning: Snoring Can Dangerous …….To  Others

By Michael A., Bengwayan


Baguio City, Philippines (September 14, 2010) – Snoring is funny—from a distance. But if you’re trying to sleep within an earshot of a snorer, it’s not funny at all.


In fact it can be deploring. Some husbands have been left by their wives because they either snore too loud or too much. Worse, some husbands have left their wives who snored themselves to sleep.

Lady Lawyer Nellie of Manila, a workaholic legal mind found that out when one day her husband left her saying in a note that she snored too much it was getting into his nerves.


Vegetable Truck driver Andrew Nudong of Baguio City always looked forward to being with his wife on weekends after every week of driving. He was not successful one day when he came home to hear his young daughter say “Mom went home to the province because she hates your snoring”.


Indeed, snoring can be alarming.

Dr. Rosalind Cartright, founder of the Sleep Disorders Center at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.  Illinois agrees. Snoring destroys couples.


In a research to determine if a harmless snore can end a marriage, she and her team discovered that wives’ sleeps are indeed deprived due to husbands’ noisy snores

“This is a frequent problem within marriages that nobody is paying enough attention to. Couples who struggle with sleep apnea have a high-divorce rate.  Because snoring   puts a strain on the marriage and creates a hostile and tense situation.”  said Dr. Cartwright.


You can be killed too for snoring.  John Wesley Hardin, a noted American gunfighter in the West is known to have killed 30 to 40 men, some, because they snored.


Isn’t it disturbing that for such a common affliction that can cause social problems and possible crime, there is surprisingly little medical advice.


Snorers number in millions or maybe billions.  And billions more are forced to listen to them. Dr. John W. Shepard Jr., M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said a study of a cross-section of Americans ages 30 to 60 found that 45 percent of the men and 25 percent of the women snore.


“When the doors are closed, the lights are out and a man and a woman are in bed together, then, there is a 70 percent chance someone is snoring. After age 60 the figure is even higher, especially among women”, Dr. Shepard said.


Why do they snore? A thorough technical definition by the British Family Health Encyclopedia says it is due to “noisy breathing through the open mouth during sleep produced by vibrations of the soft palate”.


Quite technical. To appease the common man, look inside a throat. See those assorted loose things down there? Well, when you’re sleeping nice and relaxed, they get even looser. And when one breaths through his mouth, they vibrate. Vibration, as all clarinets and kazoo players know, make noise.


Occasionally, a loose cartilage in the nose is the culprit. But generally, you can blame the throat.  As those inside the throat lose its tone as people age, they vibrate even more and older people snore even more.


Snoring is associated with deep relaxation but anxiety also can cause snores. Snoring,” Shepard says, “is one of the most significant sleep disorders, affecting health and quality of life.”


As science links heavy snoring to serious medical conditions such as heart disease and stroke, new and improved procedures are helping combat the problem. “If you snore and someone has complained about it, see a doctor,” says Carl Hunt, M.D., director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research in Bethesda, Md. “Chronic snoring is by no means routine.”


Some doctors say that smoking, drinking, heavy eating, obesity, too much salt, colds, allergies, shaky false teeths, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, and various internal deformities contribute to snoring or what the medical world call stertor.


Being fat is most likely a condition that aggravates snoring.  Extra weight can mean extra noise. “Fat accumulates in the soft tissue of the throat, and the airway narrows, making it harder to breathe,” says sleep specialist David N. F. Fairbanks, M.D., a professor at George Washington University in Washington.


But there has never been solid medical evidence that snoring indeed endangers the sleeper’s life


Is plain snoring similar to what doctors call sleep apnea? Many experts say no. In sleep apnea the airway is so blocked that breathing stops for seconds at a time, hundreds of times a night. “The heart is forced to pump harder to get oxygen, so there is real stress to the whole cardiovascular system—every night,” says Norman Schubert, program manager of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorder Center in Baltimore.


People with the disorder are exhausted during the day. Some struggle with memory problems, weight gain, impotency or headaches. Half have high blood pressure and at least three times as much risk for stroke as those without sleep apnea.


Other people can snore and do not go through the conditons of sleep apnea, many doctors say. Apnea sleepers have to wake up to breath. The sleeper sleeps for a minute or so holding his breath, then wakes long enough to grab some air, then catches some more seconds to sleep. And on through the night without knowing it.


People with this problem frequently snore explosively and erratically as they take in air—which helps tip the investigating doctor. Another symptom that hints at Apnea is chronic tiredness during the day, not surprising since the apnea sufferer is sleeping only part time. You suffer from sleep deprivation—which can do things to your mind.  And that kind of strange, on and off breathing can lead to high blood pressures and heart troubles.


Shepard estimates that fewer than 10 percent of the 18 million Americans with sleep apnea have been treated. Dave Hargett of Bolingbrook, Ill., is one who did get help. “My whole adult life people told me I was an incredibly loud snorer,” he says. “But I just shrugged it off. I didn’t get help until my wife was sleeping in the living room and I was falling asleep at work.” After he was treated, “I got my life back,” says Hargett, now the American Sleep Apnea Association’s board chairman.



Everyone knows men snore much more than women, everyone except scientific experts who insist that as many women as men are guilty.

Most snorers don’t know what they’re doing. Even light sleepers who awake at the slightest disturbance can doze peacefully through their own night sounds. Thus, an old witticism, “The first thing a man learns after he is married is he snores”.


If snorers are told that they snore, most deny it. “The denial rate among snorers is spectacular,” says Helene Emsellem, M.D., medical director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Md.


Snoring isn’t like most afflictions. The snorer as a rule doesn’t suffer. The one who does is the one who takes it in the ear.


Tests conducted in England show that champion snorers have hit 69 decibels on the loudness scale. Normal conversation registers at 40 to 60 decibels; having a first class snorer in a bed with you is roughly equivalent to sleeping in a roomful of clacking typewriters or having a jackhammer vibrating right outside your window.



Doctors used to treat severe cases of snoring by amputating the uvula or by injecting a hardening agent on the soft palate. But those didn’t work well. Some blockages in the airway require surgery, but there are less radical procedures. Recently, for example, the Food and Drug Administration approved a 10-minute procedure—done with local anesthesia—to implant a tiny polyester device that stiffens the soft palate, thus reducing the vibrations that cause snoring.


Through the years hundreds of antisnoring devices have been fashioned. Many have been patented and found their way to the market. Many are thought of to be strange.Three recommendations used years ago even in ancient China are found to be very effective even today.


It includes clenching a pencil in between your teeth for 10 minutes before you sleep ; pressing a few fingers against your jaw, forcing it to press back and pressing your tongue firmly against the lower teeth, and; practice saying “Ahhh” but without sound three to four minutes before you sleep.


If the above-mentioned don’t work, then the non-snorer should be ready to: go to sleep first, drug himself/herself into a deep sleep, try ear plugs, sleep in separate room, or get used to it.


If all don’t work, better be ready when your spouse says good bye./Michael A. Bengwayan/30






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