Snoring Causes and Remedies
If you are a snorer or have ever shared the room with someone who snores, you would know the misery it causes to everyone in the room. It could be loud or soft, but it does not change the fact that snoring is a nuisance that affects more than 45% of the world’s population.
Very often snoring is so loud that it even wakes up the snorer several times at night. People who snore are usually the butt of jokes, and no one knowingly wants to share the room with them. This causes embarrassment, and also affects productivity at work because of an unsound sleep.
Almost always, snoring is caused by an underlying disorder. There are people whose know sometimes when they are in a deep sleep and there are those who are chronic snorers and a nuisance to everyone around.
Symptoms of Snoring
Usually, snoring is a result of the disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Although not every snorer suffers from OSA, there are symptoms that let you know if there is a serious medical cause behind the snoring. These are:
- Noise while sleeping
- Excessive snoring
- Daytime sleepiness
- Poor concentration
- High blood pressure
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Severe headaches
Any or all of these symptoms could mean that the snoring has an underlying medical problem. In such a case, it is best to see a doctor and get to the root of the problem.
Causes of Snoring
The base cause of snoring is the blockage of the airway. When a person is in a deep sleep, the muscles of the roof of the mouth, tongue, and throat relax. When the tissues in the throat relax and block the airway, the breathing becomes labored and forced, leading to snoring.
Various factors can be responsible for blocking the airway:
Nasal Problems: If you suffer from nasal sinus problems it can be a reason behind your snoring. When someone suffers from sinusitis or nasal allergies, the turbinate in the nasal passages get blocked. This affects breathing and causes snoring. Your nasal passages can also get blocked if you have a cold. A runny nose is a symptom of allergy and can also cause swollen blocked nasal passages. All of these are major factors responsible for snoring.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is a serious medical condition in which the tissues of your throat partially or completely block the airway, making it difficult to breathe. This causes snoring when the tissue vibrates due to the forced breathing.
You will know you have OSA when you snore excessively loudly at night, punctuated by periods when your breathing nearly stops and you wake up gasping. People with this disorder suffer from unsound sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. This is a severe medical condition that requires diagnosis by a doctor and proper treatment for recovery.
Sleeping Position: Your sleeping position can aggravate snoring, especially if you suffer from OSA. Several studies have shown that individuals who sleep on their back are more likely to snore than those who sleep on the side. Sleep apnea gets worse when sleeping in the supine position. This is because gravity tends to push the tissues of the throat further back into the airway causing a blockage. The airway faces less blockage when the person sleeps on the side, and breathing is easier.
Anatomy of The Mouth: The mouth is an important air passage that facilitates breathing the anatomy of the mouth is often responsible for snoring. Very often the shape and position of the tongue obstructs air flow and results in difficulty in breathing. Thus snoring occurs when the breathing becomes labored or forced.
Lack of Sleep: Snoring is one of the most important signs of sleep deprivation. People with sleep apnea have a disturbed sleep and wake up several times every night. This results in excessive daytime sleepiness, lack of concentration, and decreased productivity. Lack of sleep leads to makes the throat relax further, aggravating snoring.
Excess Weight: Being overweight leads to further relaxation of the throat muscles, making snoring worse. When you are obese, fat builds up both inside and out. The fatty tissue blocks the airway, resulting in loud snoring.
Alcohol Consumption: In a similar vein, alcohol consumption also relaxed the throat muscles and contributes to snoring.
There are various ways to diagnose the cause of snoring. The doctor will ask you questions, review your medical history, and put you through a series of tests to get to the root of the problem.
Chest and nasal X-Ray and sleep study are the two ways doctors diagnose the causes of snoring. In a sleep study, you are required to stay overnight at a sleep centre and sleep with various devices connected to your body while specialists analyze your breathing and sleep patterns. This process is called polysomnography.
Some of the most common treatments, depending on the severity and cause of snoring, are:
Oral Mouthpieces: These dental appliances are fitted to your mouth to correct the jaw, tongue and soft palate position for unblocking the airway. If you are given an oral mouthpiece, you may need to visit your dentist every six months or so to get the appliance fitted and adjusted.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): This is the most common and effective treatment for snoring. CPAP involves wearing a pressurized mask over your mouth and nose during sleep, to keep the air passage open by forcing air through it. This is an effective treatment, but many people might find it difficult to get used to the mask.
Surgery: The process of surgery to minimize snoring is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. In this procedure, the surgeon tightens the throat muscles and removes excess tissues to clear the airway. This surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and also has side effects like pain and bleeding.
Laser Surgery: This is a simpler procedure that doesn’t require anesthetics. In this laser surgery, the soft palate is shortened with the aid of a laser beam and the uvula removed. The removal of excess tissue opens the airway and reduces snoring.
Pillar Procedure: This involves injecting braided strands of polyester filament into the soft palate to make it firmer and reduce vibration. This is also called palatal implants.
Snoring isn’t funny. It causes embarrassment and health problems and severely deprives sleep. More often than not, snoring is a sign of an underlying condition that needs proper diagnosis and treatment. Sleep is an important part of life that contributes significantly to a person’s health and well-being. Snoring can affect the snorer’s sleep as well as that of the others around. Proper treatment can reduce risk factors and restore normality.