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Don’t Ignore Your Snore Anymore

By April 12, 2010 Snore

Feeling tired and don’t know why? Maybe it’s because you’ve been snoring. Yes, you! It may not be your spouse’s snoring that’s keeping you up. Maybe it’s your own.

Dr. Ted Benke who is an otolaryngologist—more commonly referred to as an ENT or ear, nose and throat doctor, says snoring is an indication of obstructed breathing and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“It’s important to find out where the encumbrance may be and then find a solution to it,” Benke said. “Sure snoring can be embarrassing, but that’s not the real problem. The medical reason a person should seek help for problem snoring is because it disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of sufficient rest. When snoring is severe, it can cause serious, long-term health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea.”

Benke said obstructive sleep apnea is loud snoring that is interrupted by frequent episodes of totally obstructed breathing. Serious episodes last more than 10 seconds and occur more than seven times per hour, which can amount to 30-300 events per night.

“The problem with sleep apnea is that these episodes can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing the heart to pump harder,” he said. “The immediate effect is that the snorer must sleep lightly and keep his muscles tense in order to keep airflow to the lungs, so unfortunately, the snorer doesn’t get a good rest and becomes sleepy during the day.”

That lack of sleep may impair the snorer’s job performance and make him a dangerous driver or equipment operator.

“After many years with untreated sleep apnea, the snorer may have elevated blood pressure and heart enlargement may occur.”

Heavy snorers, those who snore in any position or are disruptive to the family, should seek medical advice to ensure that sleep apnea is not a problem.

Benke can provide a thorough examination of the nose, mouth, throat, palate and neck and can order a sleep study in a laboratory environment to determine how serious the snoring is and what effects it has on the snorer’s overall health.

“Treatments depend on the diagnosis,” Benke said. “We’ll look to see if snoring is caused by a nasal allergy, infection, deformity or the tonsils and adenoids and treat it accordingly.

“The important thing is that people get it checked out—that they take it seriously.”

He said snoring is more common than you might think. About 45 percent of adults snore, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. It is more common in men than women and it’s also more prevalent in overweight people.

“It usually gets worse with age, too, so I guess there’s some truth to the old nursery rhyme: ‘The old man is snoring,’” he said.

Benke said airway obstruction caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids can also be a problem with children.

“It’s a real issue in children,” Benke said. “If they snore, then their quality of sleep is diminished, and we see a relationship between airway obstruction in children and ADHD and poor school performance.”

Research has shown that the tonsils of children, aged 2-7, can regularly become enlarged, and because a child’s throat is narrow, the swelling can often partially block their airway. This can lead to a disruption in the child’s breathing, either during the day, or at night, causing snoring, sleep apnea, difficulty awakening, headaches, even bedwetting.

If you think you or your child may have a snoring problem, call Benke Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic today for an evaluation at 817-641-3750.

Benke Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic treats a variety of childhood problems including chronic ear infections and hearing loss, sinusitis and allergies (including RAST blood allergy testing) and facial and neck lesions and tumors. Benke ENT also offers audiology services, including for infants and children, diagnostic hearing tests, a complete line of hearing aids and evaluation and treatment for vertigo.