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Doc Talk: Is it simple snoring, or something more serious?

Doc Talk: Is it simple snoring, or something more serious? (WWMT/File)

A good night’s rest might be tough to achieve when you, or your partner, snore. Karen Oram-Proudfoot knows exactly what that’s like.

“I also have dogs that both snore, too. So, it’s like, we’re the snoring family!”

Oram-Proudfoot said she’d sleep a little here and there, rarely all night. Sleeping has been an issue her entire life, she said.

Experts say she isn’t alone.

“Sleep deprivation is a big issue in America and all over the world and it’s been associated with serious medical and psychiatric problems,” said Dr. Alice Doe, a sleep specialist with Ascension-Borgess. “Probably 75 percent of people snore, 50 percent to 75 percent. ... And among those who snore, 75 percent of them might have sleep apnea.”

Doe said snoring isn’t always a sign of sleep apnea, but in Oram-Proudfoot’s case, it was.

Once Oram-Proudfoot found out what was wrong and started using a C-PAP machine, she said, everything changed.

“The very first morning for waking up, from the first night of using the C-PAP in the sleep lab, I was just totally amazed! Like wow! I’d been missing out my whole life on this good sleep,“ she said with great relief and enthusiasm.

Doe said sleep apnea has been associated with high blood pressure. She said it can increase the risk for a heart attack, stroke and diabetes, among other things. She also said it could lead to death if left untreated.

For those who wonder if their snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, Doe said, there are some indicators. First, she said, pay attention to how you feel once you wake up. Are you tired or irritable despite sleeping all night? Your bed partner might also notice that you stop breathing, or are gasping for air at night.

Other health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, pre-diabetes or diabetes put a person at a high risk for sleep apnea. Under those circumstances, Doe suggested talking to a doctor about getting a referral for a sleep study.

For those who don't have sleep apnea, but snoring is still an issue, Doe said there are a few things that might help. She said to check that nasal passages are clear, and avoid drinking or taking sedative medications at bed time. Other options including sleeping on your side or buying a new pillow. Finally, she said, losing weight can help to reduce or stop snoring.

Oram-Proudfoot said that once her quality of sleep improved, so did her quality of life.

“Hypertension is down to like 112/60 and that’s improved immensely," Oram-Proudfoot said. "My diabetes has been level. I was taken off some insulin, which is great!”

She’s not complaining anymore and neither are the people around her.

Laughing, she said, “according to my family, my husband and my daughter, I became nicer!”

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