If you thought snoring was a matter for joking, think again!

There is enough Scientific evidence out there to link your snoring with heart disease, strokes, pulmonary hypertension , and sudden death.

Snoring is very common, specially in males above middle age. Men with short fat necks are specially prone to snoring. Though making a sound while sleeping at night may not be so dangerous, it is the apnoea associated with snoring that aggravates the health risks.

The mechanics are as follows - at night the muscle tone of the oral cavity relaxes so that tissues start approximating each other - breathing through a narrowed airway is like blowing a flute - it will produce a sound - this sound is snoring. This continues till, because of the Bernoulli phenomenon the surrounding tissue gets sucked in - this reaches a stage when the upper airway gets completely choked. Because the airway is now blocked the body stops breathing - this is the phase of apnoea.  The snoring sound stops and the patient's partner is relieved that the sound has stopped - but this is actually the dangerous situation - since the body has stopped breathing Carbon Dioxide levels continue to rise. The rise in CO2 levels prompts the body to wake up since it senses a threat to its existence. The person takes a deep breath and Oxygen levels rise and CO2 levels fall. after some time the person starts snoring again and the whole cycle keeps repeating itself all through the night.

This has two effects

- Because of fall in Oxygen levels the heart and lungs are afected

- Because of frequent arousals the brain does not get adequate sleep at night and the body is tired and sleepy during the day - a condition called 'daytime somnolence.'

This requires detailed evaluation to look for the cause of u=your snoring as well as a "sleep study" at night to check your parameters while you sleep at night.

Though many treatment options are available including surgery and the CPAP machine, a snorer needs to do the  following

- Exercise regularly - aerobic activity - this improves oropharyngeal muscle tone

- Reduce weight - weight reduction goes a long way in reducing snoring

- Give up smoking and alcohol - both of which promote Snoring.

Remember - do not ignore Snoring - get it evaluated to find out the cause and seek treatment.