Snoring is annoying, nocturnal breathing can be life-threatening. The so-called apneas favor hypertension or diabetes. How to finally keep your throat at rest
Trumpets, sawing, pattering or rattling – the vernacular knows many terms for the nocturnal concerts. In fact, snoring and respiratory distress, called apneas by doctors, is widespread. About a quarter of women and half of men snore. Most men suffer twice as often from apneas as women.
While snoring in most cases is only annoying and unpleasant – for the sleep partner, not for the person affected, because he rarely noticed any of his phonetic strength -, the apnea is a dangerous disease. “Patients suffer from drowsiness, forgetfulness, high blood pressure and diabetes, very rarely it can also lead to epileptic seizures,” said Joachim Maurer, head of the Sleep Medicine Center of the University ENT Clinic Mannheim.
Permanent stress due to respiratory failure
In an apnea, the sleeping person is left with the breath for several seconds, sometimes even a few minutes. The body imagines itself in an emergency situation and starts a wake-up program: heart rate and blood pressure rise, as well as the level of the stress hormone adrenaline. In addition, the brain is briefly active. “The sleeper wakes up for 10, 20 or 30 seconds, at least so briefly that he has no memory of it,” explains Maurer. “He tenses his muscles, takes a few deep breaths and falls asleep again.” Such dropouts happen Twenty or even 60 times an hour, the patient gets into a permanent stress situation and doctors set the threshold for illness at five intervals per hour.
With more than 15 respiratory disorders per hour, restful sleep is hardly possible. Such patients are very tired during the day. Not infrequently, the permanent exhaustion has profound consequences: for work and private life, but also for the state of health. This increases the risk of accidents in traffic, in the long term, the blood pressure can remain permanently increased, day and night. This in turn favors atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
For snoring and respiratory arrest, there are quite a few remedies and effective therapies. The spectrum ranges from tennis balls, which are sewn into the pajamas to avoid the supine position, to operational solutions. A mask called CPAP (short for: “continuous positive airway pressure”) is the most effective and widely used measure. In more recent treatment approaches, some of which are only part of studies, patients are given a so-called tongue pacemaker or a chest vibration belt that is controlled via an app.
What patients can do for themselves to snore less:
- Reduce body weight
- Abstain from alcohol in the evening
- Pay attention to a free nasal breathing
- Avoid the supine position
- Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle
- Walk for about 15 to 30 minutes daily