Snoring is not so funny.

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Historically snoring has been a punchline, frequently portrayed in movies and cartoons. Showing a character snoring will frequently result in, at least, a giggle from the intended audience. But in reality snoring can be,  and many times is, a cardinal symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.

Occasional or sporadic snoring is practically ubiquitous.  Everyone at some point or another has snored for different reasons.  Snoring ,after all,  is merely the sound produced by  the vibration of the obstructed soft tissues of the upper airway, during sleep. Snoring is a result of conditions that make the upper airway more narrow which can include: obesity, nasal congestion, anatomical abnormalities of the face, thyroid problems, and large tonsils .  Habitual snoring is less common but can still occur in 44 percent of males and 28 percent of females who are between 30-60 years of age in the general population.

The most important thing to remember is that snoring is a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  OSA is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder.  It can not only lead to sleepiness and fatigue but also is associated with heart failure, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke .  In North America, OSA is seen is approximately 20 to 30 percent in males and 10 to 15 percent in females, however this varies by race, sex, and ethnicity. The most important risk factors for OSA are advancing age, male gender, and obesity.  Remember that OSA is approximately two to three times more common in males than females, although the gap narrows at the age of menopause in women which is not entirely understood.

Look, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.  But everyone with sleep apnea, snores.  If you think you have obstructive sleep apnea you should be evaluated by a doctor.  We have come a long way in regards to diagnosing sleep apnea.  Before, everyone had to come into a sleep center and have multiple wires and belts applied to them before and during sleep.  Now we are able to diagnose at home with just 2 leads.  This quick test can be the first test to better sleep and better health.

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