Brand SpotlightYour Healthy Family


Your Healthy Family: Signs your snoring could be dangerous

Posted at 7:06 AM, Mar 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 07:06:20-04

Millions of people snore in their sleep, but sometimes snoring can be a sign of a dangerous sleep condition.

"Snoring by itself is not much of a problem," Dr. Daniel Barone, a Neurologist for the Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine, said.

He said it can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Barone said it happens when muscles that support soft tissues in your throat relax, which narrows or closes your airway, and temporarily cuts off your breathing. People with this condition may make gasping or snorting noises while sleeping.

"Sleep apnea does not result in people choking to death or dying in their sleep but what happens is the airway's closing off, and that can cause them to wake up, even if they're not aware of it. Essentially, you're choking throughout the night and it's almost as if your body is fighting against yourself," Dr. Barone said.

He said this can raise blood pressure and heart rate, and over time, can lead to heart attack or stroke.

"If you snore and you're tired, or if you snore and you have other conditions associated with sleep apnea, for example like diabetes or hypertension, you may want to get tested because the snoring in that case may be representative of sleep apnea," Dr. Barone said.

If you're diagnosed with sleep apnea, you can wear a CPAP machine at night.

"It's going to blow pressurized air, which then goes all the way down to the back of the throat and it's going to force the airway open. The snoring will be eliminated, but more importantly, the sleep apnea will also be eliminated," Dr. Barone said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says treatment of other medical problems, like congestive heart failure, may also help resolve sleep apnea.