Roncopatie, when snoring harms health

If sleep apnea occurs, it is good to undergo medical checks.

When sleep apnea occurs, it is good to undergo medical checks.

Snoring is not only a nuisance for those who share the same bed, but in some cases it can create health problems. It happens when snoring (snoring) is accompanied by sleep apnea, that is, brief moments of complete closure of the airways during sleep.

Sleep apnea, or OSAS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome), is dangerous because it can lead to serious complications. In fact, there is a precise correlation between OSAS and the onset in the long run of other disorders such as:

  • hypertension, insulin resistance
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • worsening of neurocognitive function.

For this reason it is good to keep the situation under control.

Men often start snoring at a young age, but over the years simple snoring can turn into a sleep interrupted by obstructive apnea. In women, snoring usually occurs after menopause.

The prevalence of habitual snoring (every night or almost) in adults in Italy is about 20%. 5% of males and 2% of females suffer from obstructive apnea. The problem is important, so much so that since 2016 there have been specific rules for the issue and renewal of driving licenses to people with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

What are the alarm bells?

A possible symptom of OSAS is tension headaches upon waking up in the morning. They last about an hour and a half and then disappear. Other symptoms are:

  • habitual and persistent snoring
  • pauses in breathing during sleep
  • tiredness upon waking up
  • insomnia
  • excessive drowsiness with falling asleep during the day
  • difficulty concentrating.

Those who are overweight or obese run a higher risk of suffering from sleep apnea. It is good then to keep an eye on the scale and possibly lose weight.

It is also important to consider the fat that accumulates at the level of the neck. The Italian Association of Sleep Medicine has established the “maximum” measurements: 43 centimeters in diameter for the neck of the man and 41 centimeters for the woman.

Diagnosis of OSAS

To understand if you are in the presence of OSAS, some investigations are essential. The most used diagnostic test is polysomnography (PSG): it is performed with equipment that measures some parameters while sleeping.

It is a minimally invasive examination and it is then up to the specialist doctor to establish any other in-depth examinations.


To avoid sleeping on your back (a position that facilitates snoring), use a tennis ball tucked into a special pocket created on the back of your pajamas. It is also recommended to sleep with a high pillow, to limit the fall of the tongue backwards.

If necessary, the specialist may prescribe the use of specific equipment to counteract sleep apnea.

C-PAP is a method of respiratory ventilation: a device sends air through a tube and a nasal mask, thus keeping the airways open. Oral devices, on the other hand, are devices to be inserted into the oral cavity: they improve the passage of air in the upper airways. They are especially effective in cases of mild and moderate OSAS.

In special cases it may be decided to resort to surgery; For some patients there is also the possibility of undergoing minimally invasive robotic surgery. The specialist will evaluate the different situations.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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