Snoring kills. Don't ignore it.

Snoring is not funny or cute. It can be bothersome to the snorer's bed partner, causing sleep difficulty for him or her. To the person who is snoring, the health risks are profound.

This is because snoring can be a warning sign of sleep apnea. The word "apnea" means "without breath." So, sleep apnea is a condition where a person temporarily stops breathing during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. OSA is caused by a narrowing or complete obstruction of the airway while sleeping. The airway contains muscles that relax when one is asleep, causing the airway to collapse and become blocked. The result is interrupted breathing and a lack of oxygen flow to the vital organs of the body. Most patients with sleep apnea are not aware of their condition and think that they had a normal night’s sleep.

Sleep apnea often causes headaches, low energy, daytime sleepiness, memory problems, mood changes and cloudy thinking. It also leads to an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and dementia.

A common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It consists of the machine that delivers pressurized air into the airway, and the mask through which the air is delivered. The purpose of the airflow is to keep the airway open during sleep.

If you snore, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can check to see if you have sleep apnea and prescribe an effective treatment.

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