Womens Health

Snoring Risks

Pickles and Ice Cream

You knew your belly would blow up like a balloon, you'd get morning sickness and then want to eat pickles and ice cream, but no one ever told you that you'd snore. Loudly. Or so your partner tells you.

He may not be bothered much. Maybe he even thinks it's kind of cute. But snoring in pregnancy can be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition that has the potential to endanger your health and that of your unborn child.

Your body changes in many ways during pregnancy and one of these changes pertains to your hormones. The increase of estrogen in your body causes the neck muscles to relax. At the same time, you've gained weight and some of the weight shows up in the form of fat in the neck area. The combination of estrogen-induced muscle relaxation and the accumulated fats in the neck area can cause snoring.

It's usual for pregnant women to snore during the last four weeks of gestation. Some 30% of all pregnant women report snoring at this point in their pregnancies. Snoring is quite normal at this point and sleeping on your side may help lessen this tendency.

However, excessive or chronic snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. This condition is characterized by 10 second gaps in the breathing process which can result in oxygen deprivation. This lack of oxygen is known to lead to a further complication known as preeclampsia.

Sometimes Fatal

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific condition that is associated with high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling. There may be other symptoms present such as extreme sleepiness, headaches, blurry vision, abnormal liver function, and vomiting. Experiencing only one symptom is not significant and doesn't suggest you have the condition. While the cause of preeclampsia is unknown, there seems to be a link between snoring and the development of this sometimes fatal condition.

One study suggested that snoring in pregnancy is more common among those women who had gained the appropriate amount of weight since even this modest amount of weight gain can cause extra fat to accumulate around the neck area. 14% of pregnant women who snored showed signs of hypertension and 52% of pregnant snorers had experienced swelling of their hands, face, legs, and feet as opposed to only 30% of the non-snorers.

The oxygen deprivation experienced by those pregnant women with sleep apnea has been found to retard the growth of the fetus, and in some cases, can be fatal to the unborn child. Infants born to mothers who snored during pregnancy were found to have lower birth weights and lowered Apgar scores. If you find yourself snoring, it can't hurt to make an appointment with your doctor to check on your overall health. You just may save a life or two.

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