(WHTM) — If you have a partner who snores, you know how annoying it can be.
But that pesky noise could actually be a sign of something more serious.
“Snoring is really the sound that is made by the upper airway muscles when the airway is collapsing. And when we see the airway collapse in sleep, we call that sleep apnea, typically obstructive sleep apnea. So, snoring can be a disorder in and of itself, but most people who snore have some degree of obstructive sleep apnea,” Dr. Nancy Foldvary, director of the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center said.
Dr. Foldvary says besides snoring, sleep apnea has other symptoms too.
For example, a person may frequently wake up during the might or feel like they didn’t get a solid night’s sleep.
They may also notice daytime sleepiness, and even more severe — an observer may notice that the person’s breathing stops and restarts while they’re sleeping. That can lead to chronic diseases affecting the heart, brain and metabolism.
Dr. Foldvary says if you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, you should speak with your physician.
Sleep disorders shouldn’t be ignored.
“Most recently we’ve learned that people who don’t sleep, who don’t get at least seven hours of sleep, per night, and this includes people with sleep apnea who have a lot of sleep disruptions, are at higher risk to develop dementia over the course of their lifetime when they get older,” Dr. Foldvary said.
Of course, snoring can be caused by other factors too — like after having a few glasses of wine, if you’re sick, or are dealing with allergies.
In those cases, where it’s temporary, Dr. Foldvary says it’s likely nothing to worry about.