If you’ve ever had to sleep within earshot of someone who snores, you know how frustrating it can be. Some estimates suggest that approximately half of people snore at some point in their lives, and for family or partners who just want to get a good night’s sleep, ear plugs can seem like a good solution. But before you stop up your ears against those snores, you should know: Using ear plugs to block out snoring could be dangerous for both of you.
The Dangers of Ear Plugs
Wax ear plugs are common because they’re inexpensive and they mold to your ear canal, blocking noise more effectively than foam ones. But while their ability to soften with heat can be a benefit at first, it can become a risk over the course of the night — as one woman recently learned.
Lucy Holden was used to wearing ear plugs to drown out her boyfriend’s snoring. But after waking up one morning to find them stuck deep in her ears, she wound up at the emergency room, and then with a referral to a specialist. It was days before her ears were clear again, and during that time, she risked infection, inflammation, and even permanent hearing loss as a result of damage to the ear drum.
Holden wasn’t the only one to have this happen. Her doctor reported seeing plenty of patients with exactly the same problem, and recommended avoiding earplugs of any kind.
Snoring Isn’t Just Annoying
But ear plugs aren’t the only problem — snoring isn’t harmless, either. In fact, it’s a common sign of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing over and over during the night, and the condition can be deadly. And the worst part? Around 80% of cases go undiagnosed.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea include drowsiness and fatigue during the day, headaches, irritability, and difficulty staying focused. Some people with sleep apnea will find it difficult to avoid falling asleep during sedentary activities like watching TV, or even driving. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you could be one of those countless undiagnosed sleep apnea sufferers.
The good news is, once you have been diagnosed by a sleep specialist, there are sleep apnea treatments that can eliminate your symptoms, reduce your related health risks, and yes — stop the snoring! For example, a CPAP appliance has become the go-to first line of treatment for sleep apnea due to its proven effectiveness. For those who find the CPAP uncomfortable, oral appliance therapy may be more effective. In some cases, oral surgery can even solve the problem permanently.
Whatever your specific needs, a skilled dentist in Austin like Dr. Dan Matthews can help find the perfect sleep apnea treatment for you. Call 512-452-2273 or contact us online to learn more or make an appointment.