Could your snoring have long-term effects on your health?

The Global News and CKNW Health Series will be tackling the issues of sleep and stress. Today’s topic, snoring.

It turns out snoring can damage more than your relationship, it can also take a toll on your health. But how can you tell?

“If it’s just mild it’s probably not as bad, and obviously if it’s really, really loud then that shows your body is fighting harder to get that air through a restricted passage,” said Paul Sweeney, founder of Coastal Sleep Apnea Clinics and a respiratory therapist.

LISTEN: How to find out if your snoring is hurting you? 

He said snoring occurs when the tongue falls on the back of the throat and when the uvula, which helps prevent food from going up our nose, relaxes and falls down on itself.

Sweeney says the main thing to look out for is whether or not there are long pauses between snores.

“Those sort of variable periods where it could be sleep apnea,” which Sweeney says can be a cause for concern.

According to Sweeney, these periods in between snores could be a sign of blocked airways. Blockages that last more than 10 seconds can lead to a drop of oxygen levels in the blood.

WATCH: Symptoms of sleep apnea to be aware of

“It’s challenging on your cardiovascular system,” said Sweeney. “The long-term effects of low oxygen can cause cardiovascular effects down the road and even increase peoples risk for strokes and heart attacks.”

The best analogy, Sweeney says, is to think of your heart as a car engine. If a car needs to maintain a speed of 60km/h, a pause in breathing is like slowing the car down to 20km/h. When a person starts breathing again, it’s like the car accelerates to 100km/h within seconds.

Uncontrolled sleep apnea poses significant risks to road safety

So how do you treat it?

Sweeney says there are several options. People can try bumper belts, which prevent people from sleeping on their back. Tongue retainers and mouth guards are also an option.

WATCH: Calgary company treats sleep apnea with new technology

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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