When Snoring Turns Deadly!6 years ago | Sleep
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
There are some things we often take for granted in life, like breathing fresh air. Air contains oxygen which every cell in your body needs to live and function. The cells use oxygen to help metabolize (burn) the nutrients released from the food you eat and for energy.
To put your need for oxygen in perspective, you can live for weeks without food, days without water but only a few minutes without oxygen.
Your lungs are part of your breathing system, also known as your respiratory system. And you have your lungs to thank for every breath of air you take. Your lungs move fresh air, which includes oxygen, into your body when you inhale. Your blood transports this oxygen throughout your body to your cells.
And at each cell, something called a “gas exchange” occurs. The oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide, a waste gas. Your blood then does its amazing transportation job, once again, and delivers the carbon dioxide to your lungs. From there, it is removed from the bloodstream and exhaled.
So without our precious oxygen, our food would be useless and we would die within minutes partly because we would be unable to convert all those great nutrients we consume from the foods we eat into energy that our bodies can use. This energy is what the body uses to fuel the muscles and brain, remove waste, control our genes and even heal.
Understanding the importance of oxygen and breathing makes it easier to understand the seriousness of sleep apnea. ‘Apnea’ is a Greek word, meaning “want of breath.”
Sleep apnea occurs during sleep when you have pauses in breathing. These pauses can last from seconds to minutes and be extremely dangerous, because they cause the oxygen level in your brain to drop. When your oxygen level drops, your brain does whatever it can to get you to resume breathing. So the snorting and choking sounds you hear when someone like your spouse snores is really them gasping for air, because the brain is not getting enough oxygen.
Untreated sleep apnea may lead to an increased risk of brain damage, stroke, heart attack and ultimately death. It is a problem that affects nearly 22 million Americans, including some of your favorite celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal, Rosie O’Donnell, William Shatner, Regis Philbin, Quincy Jones, Rick Perry and Randy Jackson.
Sleep apnea reportedly contributed to the death of defensive lineman Reggie White at the age of 43. To help raise awareness about this disorder, his widow created the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research and Education Foundation. You can also take this sleep apnea test frequently used by sleep disorder specialists to determine sleep apnea risk.
Finally, you can review our in-depth sleep apnea guide which provides a detailed description of this disorder and includes risk factors, treatment and prevention and nutrition strategies.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.