Snoring can be infuriating if you are on the receiving end. But next time you feel forced to kick your partner out of bed for keeping you up all night (or take refuge in the spare room), bear in mind that anything more than an occasional snore could be a sign they need medical help.
Far from something to be brushed off, these nocturnal noises are rarely benign. Typically, caused by a combination of physiology and environmental factors, snoring may – rather surprisingly – harm the body in a number of ways…
While some people may get frustrated by a snoring partner, it could actually be a sign medical help is needed
The constant vibration of habitual snoring causes damage and inflammation to the throat, and may be linked to thickening of the carotid arteries, which run up the sides of the neck supplying the head with blood.
This, say researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, increases the risk of artherosclerosis – furring of the insides of the blood vessels – and the chances of stroke.
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a disorder that occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep and causes loud snoring and periodic interruptions in breathing. It has long been linked to heart disease and a range of other serious health problems.
The condition is thought to affect about five per cent of the adult population to some degree, with 250,000 Britons suffering what is deemed a severe form of it. However 25 million are thought to be habitual snorers, without OSA.
In the Henry Ford study, experts reviewed data for more than 900 patients, aged 18 to 50, who had been evaluated by the institution’s sleep centre. None of the volunteers suffered from OSA. They completed a survey regarding their snoring and had scans of their carotid arteries.
Compared to non-snorers, snorers were found to have significantly thicker arterial walls, an early sign of cardiovascular disease.
Surprisingly, those with high cholesterol, diabetes and those who smoked did not have thickened carotid arteries, leading the researchers to suggest that snoring was the biggest health concern for these people.
It Brings on Bronchitis
The same vibrations in the throat have been suggested as a factor in the development of chronic bronchitis, inflammation of lower airways accompanied by a persistent cough and the production of mucus or phlegm.
A Korean study found that individuals who snored six to seven times per week were 68 per cent more likely to develop the condition. The association was strongest in individuals who were overweight, but smoking was not a factor.
‘Repeated snoring vibrations may act as mechanical stresses, leading to increased inflammatory response in the upper airway,’ said the report.