upper airways

Can Snoring Damage The Upper Airways?

Published On December 16, 2019 | By Joshua Sigafus | About Snoring

By now, we all know a few different things about snoring. We know, for example, that it usually occurs in the upper airways. We also know that… 

  1. It is loud and keeps people awake
  2. It happens to most of us at some point or another
  3. If it gets too bad and we end up suffering from sleep apnea, we can suffer some pretty dangerous long-term effects

But now, there is new evidence pointing toward a different danger related to snoring. 

A team of researchers at Umea University in Sweden have reported that even the recurrent vibrations of snoring can, on their own, cause injuries and damage to the upper airways. 

They are calling it ‘vibration damage.’ 

That’s right. Even the vibrations caused by snoring actually hurt you!

The Research: What Do The Upper Airways Have To Do With It?

Associate Professor Per Stal, who leads the research going on at Umea University, reported that constant snoring could pose a significant health risk. 

But he also said that there were indications that their research could ‘guide them towards immediate preventative measures,’ and potentially give their team the information they would need to heal the tissue damaged by snoring. 

But what exactly is this ‘damage’ that they are referring to? 

As it turns out, people who snore heavily on a regular basis often show signs of not only nerve loss in the soft palate, but also muscle mass loss. But what makes this even stranger is that, when the body tries to heal this damaged tissue, it doesn’t seem to heal correctly… and results instead in an ‘abnormal structure.’ 

There is some complicated scientific jargon in the study to describe exactly what is going on here… but the long and short of it is that the constant, continued snoring, night after night, basically hurts the body’s attempt to heal this damage. 

This results in ‘abnormal structures’ in the upper airway that further compounds and complicates the problem. This would, in theory, lead to a vicious cycle where snoring causes damage, but also prevents the healing of that damage. 

That damage would then, in theory, make the snoring problem worse… and on and on it goes. 

But that isn’t even the last of it. 

They also report that this damage could make it more difficult to swallow. It could also lead to an increase in the odds that a person would eventually develop obstructive sleep apnea if they haven’t developed it already.

How Can It Be Fixed?

The research team is currently working on a way to fix the problem. They have been experimenting, for example, with growing cultured muscle and nerve cells, and then subjecting them to harmful vibrations. 

This will help them to test exactly how the damage is being done, in an effort to help them understand how it could be prevented. 

After the vibrations, they then attempt to treat the cells with different substances in the hopes that they can find a remedy that will both repair and regenerate the damaged tissue. 

At the moment, they say that they are ‘hopeful’ that they will generate the data required to not only prevent, but also treat the problem. 

The findings from this study were published in Respiratory Research

This is just another drop of water in the bucket of evidence pointing toward the fact that snoring can actually be quite dangerous. 

Not just to our quality of sleep, but also to the upper airways themselves!

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