A Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon, Dr. Olanrewaju Idris, has cautioned against ignoring snoring, noting that it is an abnormal development that should not be taken for granted.
The ENT expert urged men who snore to seek medical intervention, warning that the condition when not properly evaluated and treated could cause impotence in men.
Dr. Idris also stated that snoring when not properly managed could lead to social problems in the life of those battling with it.
Dr. Idris who works at the Department of Ear, Nose and Throat, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara State, noted that most people who snore are not aware that they are snoring until someone tells them or a video of their sleep is recorded and shown to them.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, the surgeon said snoring is abnormal because either awake or during sleep, individual breathing should not be associated with any sound or noise.
He said, “People that are snoring should not take it for granted because snoring is abnormal.
“The fundamental thing is that our breathing should not be associated with any sound. Snoring occurs because there is a partial obstruction to the passage of air which results in turbulent airflow.
“That is where the noise is coming from. Once the air going into the body is not enough, then the person will have what is called hypoxia – a low level of oxygen supply. And when that happens, it can affect the lungs and cause hypertension in the lungs.
“And if nothing is done about it, the right side of the heart that usually pumps blood to the lungs can fail.”
He explained further that if the condition is not addressed, it could kill the person, stressing that snoring also causes social problems in the individual affected and the people around him or her.
Giving insight into social problems associated with snoring, the surgeon said, “We have seen cases of marital disputes resulting from snoring and it can be either way.
“You know as a man, you go to work and when you retire home to sleep, your wife is snoring and you can’t sleep throughout the night and she is enjoying her sleep and not even aware that she snores.
“In fact, in some cases, it is the spouse that will force the partner to come for consultation. So, many times, it has happened.
“Even if one is dating a lady or a man and in the process, before you get married, you realise that this person is snoring deeply, that can affect the relationship.
“We refer to those people as heroic snorers. A heroic snorer is an individual who snores in a room and you can hear it in the other room. So, there is no way people would want to be around that person especially at night to sleep.”
The physician also noted that snoring could also affect a person’s daily activities.
“You can imagine people handling heavy-duty machines or a driver who doesn’t sleep well at night because of snoring and then begins to sleep while driving.
“Because of low oxygen levels, during the day, the person will not be very active and while driving, the person can sleep off and have an accident,” he added.
Continuing, Dr. Idris said, “It has been documented that snoring can cause impotence in men and you know that impotence on its own can lead to a divorce.
“Once there is a low level of oxygen in the body, the body cannot function well. Oxygen is like fuel in our body and every organ in the body requires oxygen to function well. If the body cannot get enough oxygen, there is no way it can function well.
“For a man to have a good erection, there is a need for adequate oxygen levels in the blood. When there is low oxygen, the brain will function at a low level.
“So, a man needs all the organs in the body to function maximally to have an erection.”
Dr. Idris pointed out that increasing age, alcohol consumption, male gender, and being overweight predispose people to snore, adding that it is more common in older people.
Commenting on interventions, the surgeon said treatment for snorers is individualised, adding that some people might just need lifestyle modification to address the condition depending on the cause.
“Evaluate first and then prescribe the best form of treatment to the people.
“People need medical evaluation to ascertain what is causing the obstruction. That is why the treatment is individualised. We have lifestyle modification and reconstructive surgery,” he said.
According to the Sleep Foundation, snoring is caused by the rattling and vibration of tissues near the airway in the back of the throat.
“During sleep, the muscles loosen, narrowing the airway, and as we inhale and exhale, the moving air causes the tissue to flutter and make a noise like a flag in a breeze.
“Some people are more prone to snoring because of the size and shape of the muscle and tissues in their neck. In other cases, excess relaxing of the tissue or narrowing of the airway can lead to snoring.
“Knowing the basics about snoring — what causes it, when it’s dangerous, how to treat it, and how to cope with it — can facilitate better health and eliminate a common cause of sleep complaints,” the foundation said.