Snoring can be a warning sign of breathing problems

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It's loud, disruptive, and not great for marriage. Snoring is more than a nuisance, though; it could also be a sign of a bigger problem. 

Yvonne Price, 66, admits she's a snorer. But what she didn't realize is that her body was trying to tell her something. 
"I had never considered going for a sleep test until my sons informed me that, on our cross country trip from California to Michigan - they were driving; I was sleeping in the back seat - they noticed when I inhaled there was a long period of time before I exhaled," she says. 

"Especially if you're sleepy and snoring, that's usually kind of a double whammy that you need to get tested [for sleep apnea]," says Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk from Henry Ford Hospital. Loud snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness are two big symptoms. 

"If you a snore, snore, snore and then it pauses, that usually means that you've stopped breathing, not that you've stopped snoring. So that cessation or that quietness, most bed partners will go, 'Thank goodness; it's quiet.' No. They're not breathing," she says. "And then usually there's a gasp or arousal, which means you've woken yourself up to start breathing again."

As sleep apnea is cutting off your oxygen, you're not getting good sleep and you're raising your risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes. 

Treating sleep apnea sometimes involves losing weight, and using a machine that continuously pumps air into your throat to keep it open.  

For people who are just too uncomfortable with the CPAP, Dr. Yaremchuk says there is now an implantable device. 

"There's a sensor implanted into the muscles of the ribs, and then there's one that goes to the tongue muscles, so everything is underneath; you don't see it. What happens is, every time you go to take a breath, it senses it and then it sends a stimulus to the tongue. It moves the tongue forward, not so much that it wakes you up ... but enough that it opens the airway so you can breathe," Dr. Yaremchuk. 

For Yvonne, she's looking forward to sleeping with a CPAP after suffering in the dark for 5 years. She says it's time to shine some light on sleep apnea. 

The doctor tells us you can now do a sleep study at a lab or at home. So it can be convenient and very revealing.