Snoring damages your airways and the ‘recurrent vibrations’ slows down healing, finds study
- Researchers from Umea University in Sweden studied people’s throat muscles
- They found vibrations from snoring damaged their proteins and structure
- The effect increased someone’s risk of developing more serious sleep apnoea
It may already drive your partner mad and have you spending the night on the sofa as punishment.
But snoring can also be a serious health risk, according to scientists.
Research has found vibrations from snoring wrecks fragile tissues in the airways and also stops the damage from healing.
This damage could make it more difficult for people to swallow and leave them at higher risk of developing sleep apnoea, which may have deadly complications.
People who snore may be at risk of damaging the tissue in their airways beyond repair, which could increase their risk of developing sleep apnoea which can have deadly consequences (stock image)
Researchers from Umea University in Sweden examined the uvula muscles – the bit which hangs down at the back of the mouth – in 22 people.
They noticed changes in proteins inside the muscle which showed it had been damaged by the vibrations caused by snoring.
Injuries were not caused in the sense of bleeding cuts or tears to the tissue, but the internal structure of the tissue and nerves were damaged and the muscle wasted away.
WHY DO WE SNORE?
Snoring is a snorting or droning sound some people make while they’re asleep.
A common phenomenon, it affects tissues in the throat and upper airways, which relax when someone is asleep.
As air flows over this relaxed flesh it causes it to vibrate, which creates a buzzing sound.
Most people snore occasionally but some people suffer from it chronically, or may develop a more severe problem called sleep apnoea in which the airway actually collapses and briefly stops the breathing.
Possible triggers for snoring include alcohol consumption, which makes muscles relax more; ongoing nasal congestion; sleep deprivation or sleeping on your back.
Men, overweight people, and those with a narrow airway are all also at higher risk of snoring.
Source: Mayo Clinic
The same vibrations also prevented those same injuries from healing properly, the research found, potentially causing long-term damage to the airways.
‘Besides the disturbing effects, constant snoring can be a significant health risk,’ said study author, Professor Per Stal.
‘Nonetheless, there are indications that our research will guide towards early preventive measures and in the long term also enhance healing of damaged tissue caused by snoring.’
The injuries Professor Stal and his team discovered were in the upper respiratory tract – in the airways above the shoulders including the throat, nose and mouth.
They found a link between this type of damage and difficulty swallowing or sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea causes people to stop breathing when they’re asleep and, if not treated or controlled, it can increase the risk of high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat, and even make someone more likely to have a stroke or heart attack.
In their examinations the team found chemicals produced by regenerating nerve cells, suggesting the body was trying to heal itself.
But the snoring vibrations, they suggested, stopped this from being successful.
‘[These] findings have given us a clearer picture of the effects of snoring vibrations,’ said Farhan Shah, one of the researchers.
The team’s study was published in the journal Respiratory Research.
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