Your Partner's Snoring
What You Can Do
If your spouse is a consistent snorer, encourage him to see his healthcare professional. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, stopping the use of alcohol and sedatives, and avoiding meals right before bedtime often can improve the situation or cure snoring altogether. These can be difficult changes to make on one's own, and a healthcare professional often can provide helpful guidance. A doctor can also determine whether your spouse should be evaluated for sleep apnea.
Dr. Doghramji says that, according to the statistics that are currently available, anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of chronic snorers have evidence of sleep apnea. He strongly recommends that a snorer be evaluated for this condition if he or she can answer yes to any of the following questions:
- Do you feel groggy or sleepy during the day? Do you notice that you have problems concentrating?
- Do you have high blood pressure or any form of cardiovascular disease? Because sleep apnea causes a loss of oxygen, it can aggravate these conditions.
- Does your bed partner tell you that you choke or gasp during sleep?
A sleep test called polysomnography, which monitors a person in a specialized lab over the course of an entire night, is needed to make a definitive diagnosis. But once it's diagnosed, sleep apnea can be treated with a number of different strategies. Some people get good results with the CPAP machine, while others may use a specially fitted dental appliance that opens the airway. In still other cases, minimally invasive surgery can be done to remove tissue that could be blocking the airway.
Left untreated, sleep apnea will not only continue to wreak havoc with your sleep, but it can also lead to significant health consequences for your partner. Research has suggested an association between sleep apnea and a number of potentially serious conditions: high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, impotency, headaches, and depression.
Dr. Doghramji admits that it can be difficult to get your snoring partner to seek help, especially when the noise is affecting you more than him. Once your partner is aware of the real medical consequences, however, he may be more likely to agree to an evaluation.
"Get him to go on the Web and look at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine site (www.aasmnet.org), and see that this is a real condition," Dr. Doghramji advises. "I've often said that wives are our best ally in diagnosing sleep apnea."
Sources: Journal of Otolaryngology, Vol. 32, No.3, 2003 (June 2003) and Chest, 2003;124:942-947 (September 2003)
From the National Women's Health Resource Center. Copyright 2003-2004 by the National Womens's Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC). All rights reserved. Reproducing this content in any form is prohibited without written permission. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.