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Steven Y Park, MD  
Male, 54
New York, NY

Specialties: Sleep-breathing disorders

Interests: Running, Baking, origami
Private Practice
New York, NY
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Snoring As Your Internal Smoke Alarm

Nov 22, 2009 - 10 comments



Sleep Apnea


smoke alarm

When we used to live in a house many years ago, our carbon monoxide alarm would keep going off in the basement. We checked the alarm and all the various possible sources of carbon monoxide leakage, with no obvious leaks. On a routine maintenance call for our furnace, the technician found that whoever installed the unit did it improperly, and it wasn't vented properly. Needless to say, my wife and I were shocked.

Similarly, snoring is your internal alarm telling your spouse or bedpartner that there's a problem. Snoring means that there's partial or total obstruction with your breathing and that it could mean something much more dangerous lurking underneath that can literally kill you in your sleep. I commented in a previous blog how there's no such thing as "benign snoring." If you snore, you have a 35% chance of having obstructive sleep apnea, which increases your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke by 3-5 times. Even if you don't have official sleep apnea, you'll still have a higher chance of suffering from depression, insomnia, or getting into a car accident.

In this country, we routinely screen for dozens of medical conditions that have 1-2% incidence that are much less riskier than having untreated obstructive sleep apnea. With up to 24% of middle-aged men and well over 50% of seniors having this condition, it's a travesty that snoring is not taken too seriously by the medical community. The snorer's health is potentially at risk, but what about the snoree that has to suffer and lose hours of sleep due to his or her snoring bedpartner?

Do you suffer from sleep loss due to a snoring significant other? If you are the snorer, and haven't done anything about it, what are you waiting for?

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Avatar universal
by bjk1958, Nov 23, 2009
I'm a female who snore like a mac truck sometimes.  I've been snoring for 30 years on and off. I've never been considered overweight, or considered less than healthy. Have there been many cases that you know with seemingly healthy51 year old women snoring?

Avatar universal
by Steven Y Park, MDBlank, Nov 23, 2009
There are no rules when it comes to snoring. Young, thin women can snore heavily. Recently, a 60 year old British woman recorded the loudest snore on record with 111.6 dB, which is louder than a low flying jet. Ultimately, it's an anatomic jaw-structure problem, rather than a weight problem (which comes later).

On the flip side, you don't have to snore at all to have obstructive sleep apnea. This is why many women who have obstructive sleep apnea are given other diagnoses by their doctors since most think that you have to be an older, heavy-set, snoring man with a big neck to have sleep apnea.

Avatar universal
by Mongi, Nov 23, 2009
My husband is 46 years old and he snores alot. He recently did the sleep study and based on the results they say he has sleep apnea and he is now being fitted for a sleeping mask. I am worry because the doctor also say that he has a weak heart, which I don't understand why because he is a very healthy person who is not over weight, eats healthy and takes care of himself alot. Furthermore, about six months ago he had a knee injury and after 4 weeks of therapy he got PE & DVT which almost killed him but I am thankful to report that he's one of the lucky ones to overcome such a deadly and silent killer illness.  I guess my questions to you Dr. Park is can the weak heart be because he has sleep apnea or due to the PE & DVT that he had and what measures should he take to strengthen his heart?

Please advise

Avatar universal
by CheeChee22, Nov 24, 2009
What is PE & DVT?

Avatar universal
by choo_choo, Nov 24, 2009
(PE) Pulmonary embolism...blood clot in lung.  (DVT) deep vein thrombosis..blood clot in deep veins of legs.

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by redheadaussie, Nov 26, 2009
My mother has snored all her life. (used to wake me as a kid and I slept down the other end of the house!) Now these past 20 years or so ( I am 46) I find, I too, snore heavily. I often wake myself up! Even after having a total thryoidectomy, ( I blamed the severe goitre for the snoring, obstructing my throat) I still snore! Having got a partial lower denture for my missing molars, as I thought perhaps my lowered teeth to jaw ratio was causing it, I STILL snore! LOL.
  My teenage son sometimes comes in and wakes me as he stays up later than I do. He says sometimes I just stop. Then I don't start again! It is scary. I sometimes feel that happening, kind of dreaming of drowning then I gasp for air and then doze back to sleep.
  Does my doctor think there is a risk for heart attack, stroke, or anything similar? Nope. Coz I am skinny (68 kilos, 168cms tall) I am not, in his mind, a candidate for sleep apnoea.  As you say Dr Park, if I looked like a big beached mother whale then I am sure he'd rush me right off to hospital!
  I lie on my tummy most nights, seems to help the snoring, at least the household can't hear the muffled snores through the mattress as much, but, by golly, I keep dreaming of eating marshmallows and in the morning my pillow is no longer there! LOL

Avatar universal
by bell007, Nov 28, 2009
My husband was diagnosed with sleep apnea after taking the sleep test.

He was on an oxygen concentrator and nearly died.  Pls pull up the following
news link by the Las Vegas Chief Investigative Reporter on this incident.

If, by chance you cannot get this, pls email me and I will forward it to you.
I am trying to make people aware.

TV Story Link:


You may forward it to whomever you feel it will help.

My email:  ***@****

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by neurotic, Nov 28, 2009
To bell007
Thank you for posting the link to your story.  I am going for a sleep study soon and you bet i will ask the question about the filters.  I wish you and your husband good health.

Avatar universal
by Steven Y Park, MDBlank, Nov 28, 2009
Thanks for all your posts.


Obstructive sleep apnea is known to cause or aggravate heart disease, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. It also thickens the blood, along with increasing inflammation, which can cause the blood to clot easier. Ultimately, the best thing to do for now is to make sure he's able to use the CPAP mask nightly.

Avatar universal
by reneamollor505, Jul 02, 2010
Snoring arises when breathing is obstructed. This can be caused by a cold or an anatomical
irregularity in the nose or throat.

However, the most common cause of snoring is, that the muscles in and around the throat
relax too much when we are asleep. This means that the opening in the throat becomes
narrow, and air has difficulty in passing.

You can look into anti-snoring nasal drops. The nasal drop lubricates and softens the
mucous membrane and lightly tightens the musculature in the throat. This means that
breathing is not disturbed in any way, and that your mouth will not be as dry in the morning.
Check out the link below for more details.

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