Snoring can make for a bad night’s sleep – for you and your sleeping partner. But if it happens because of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it’s a sign of a much bigger health issue.

Have you ever been accused of snoring by your spouse? Have your kids ever recorded your snoring for a good laugh? Sure, we might think snoring only affects those around us, but the truth is more unsettling.

Long considered little more than a nuisance, snoring is no longer something to ignore (e.g., ear plugs worn by your sleeping partner) or attempt to treat with home/natural remedies (e.g., herbs, oils, vitamins, fancy pillow, nasal strips, a tennis ball t-shirt).

Snoring is not normal. It increases your risk of serious health issues. Here are eight health problems you could experience if you have sleep apnea.

  1. Heart disease. If you have OSA, you are more likely to have a heart attack. Strokes and artrial fibrillation (fluttering heartbeat) are also linked to OSA.
  2. High blood pressure. OSA can worsen your high blood pressure.
  3. Weight gain. While being overweight increases your chances of getting OSA, the condition also makes it harder to lose weight.
  4. Type 2 diabetes. 80% or more of people with OSA have Type 2 diabetes. Not getting enough sleep keeps your body from using insulin properly, which leads to diabetes.
  5. Acid reflux. While there is no evidence that OSA causes acid reflux, many people who have OSA report it’s a problem. Treating sleep apnea seems to improve this condition for some people.
  6. Adult asthma. Some people who are treated for sleep apnea have experienced fewer asthma attacks.
  7. Depression. “Snorting, gasping or stopping breathing while asleep was associated with nearly all depression symptoms, including feeling hopeless, and feeling like a failure,” said Anne G. Wheaton, PhD, lead author of a CDC study looking at the association between depression and sleep apnea.
  8. Motor vehicle accidents. When you feel sleepy, you raise your risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. People with OSA are up to five times more likely than normal sleepers to have traffic accidents.
car crash

If you snore, take your medical condition seriously. Speak to your primary care provider about having a home sleep test or sleep lab study performed through the Knoxville Hospital & Clinics Sleep Disorders Clinic. “The vast majority of patients, once treated, feel much better,” said Renee Fitzhugh of Practical Sleep Services (KHC’s sleep testing specialists). “Don’t keep trying to cope with it.”

The information on this blog is provided for general information purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, treatment or evaluation; nor should it be used in diagnosing a health condition. You are encouraged to consult your health care provider if you or a family member has or suspect you have a medical problem.