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For some people, snoring is just a normal part of life they—and their partners—need to deal with. But left untreated, those harmless (albeit noisy) snores can increase your risk for multiple life-threatening conditions.

Snoring can be caused by allergies, obesity, genetics, and even muscle-relaxing medications. But it can also be a symptom of sleep apnea, a condition where people stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. As if that isn’t concerning enough, the American Heart Association cautions that sleep apnea is associated with hypertension, stroke, and heart failure—and studies around the country can confirm.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers found that over the course of an 18-year study, people with severe, untreated sleep apnea had triple the death rate of those without apnea. For participants who had 30 or more breathing pauses per hour asleep, their risk of cardiovascular death was five times greater compared to those who had fewer than five pauses. In a different study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, people with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (the most common form of the condition) were four times more likely to die and three times more likely to die from cancer. They also more than doubled their risk of developing cancer and were nearly four times more likely to have a stroke.

Additional symptoms of sleep apnea include exhaustion during the day, gasping or choking while you sleep, morning headaches, and frequent need to urinate at night. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these or just want further evaluation on the cause of your snores. In the meantime, these things could put you on the path to a snore-free night.

|Readers Digest

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