A Danish study finds that people who snore violently and particularly those who suffer from sleep apnea and obesity-related respiratory problems, such as obesity hypoventilation syndrome, are more frequently in contact with health care providers, take more medicine, and are more often unemployed and have lower average incomes than their healthy counterparts.

The study, published in the journal Thorax, found that patients with sleep apnea or obesity-related respiratory problems incur prescription and hospital costs at a rate two to three times higher than healthy control subjects. The total health costs were twice as high, while unemployment was 30% higher than that for the control population. Patients who suffered from obesity-related problems had the lowest rate of employment.

According to the researchers, when patients with these conditions were employed, they earned 30% less than healthy control subjects, an indication of lower education attainment and an effect of the health impact of their disorder. The researchers also noted that patients with these conditions were more likely to be on welfare than were healthy subjects, and they were more likely to be on prescription medicines subsidized by the state.

The researchers found that the socioeconomic consequences of these conditions are present up to 8 years before patients are finally diagnosed with sleep apnea or obesity-related respiratory problems.