Snoring is usually talked about with a touch of humor. It is passed off as a sign of good sleep. 45% of normal adults snore, at least occasionally. A bed partner or roommate might tell you about the sound of “sawing logs” as the night-time soundtrack, but jokes aside, snoring is a serious matter.
The snoring partner may be reluctant to accept their habit of creating friction among partners and reducing mutual love and respect. The non-snoring partner may experience insomnia, sleep-deprivation, and tiredness all the time due to lack of sleep and annoyance. Read on to know what causes snoring, its health implications and the medical devices used as a cure.
What causes snoring?
Turbulent airflow causes the palate and throat tissues to vibrate generating the harsh buzzing sound called as snoring. Apart from being embarrassing and unnatural, snoring also points towards some underlying health issues. Listed below are most common causes of snoring.
Obesity and Weight gain
If the tissues in the neck are thick, they block the airflow and cause snoring. Obesity is the number one cause of snoring. Exercise and weight loss is the solution for obesity-linked snoring.
Alcohol, sedatives, sleeping pills and tranquilizers
Alcohol and sedatives relax the body muscles, slowing down the reflexes and tearing down the body defenses. They also relax the throat and nose tissues leading to snoring. Continuous use of alcohol and sedative before sleeping must be avoided.
Cigarette smoking irritates the lining of the throat and nose, making it inflamed and swollen, resulting in harsh snoring sounds while sleeping. If you are a snorer and a smoker, chances are your snoring is caused by smoking.
Lying on your back or stomach makes you snore. Lying on the back makes the tongue and palate fall back into the mouth, hindering the airway. Medical aid is required to keep the tongue and palate in place. A simpler solution is to make a habit of sleeping sideways.
If the nasal passage is blocked due to common cold and allergies, it is considered a nasal congestion. A nasal congestion narrows the nasal air passage. Medical aids and over the counter prescription medicines are a cure for such congestions.
Sometimes the nasal septum is such that it allows less air passage. If such a condition is detected, it could be rectified through medical aids or procedure.
Prolonged snoring indicates a sleeping disorder called Sleep Apnea or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It is a condition whereby air passage is completely blocked resulting in no air flow into the lungs. In a condition of apnea, a person feels choked in sleep and wakes up every few minutes or hours to catch his breath. This condition leads to a week heart and less oxygen in the body. Snoring may also hint at sleep deprivation and insomnia. In females, snoring is a by-product of menopause. Abrupt or incessant snoring in some cases points towards throat cancer. Sleeping disorders like excessive sleep may be the underlying cause of snoring.
Curing Snoring requires knowing what causes it in the first place. It is also imperative to know the type of snorer you are. Is it temporary, habit, position or weight induced snoring? Or is it permanent snoring? If it is temporary, habit induced, those habits can be curbed but if it is permanent snoring, it requires medical attention and over the counter aids and prescription medication. The most popular medical procedures, aids, and devices are listed below.
Correcting Nasal Structure
Some people have a deviated septum, which is a misalignment of the nose wall, that restricts airflow. Resulting in mouth breathing and snoring. It can be surgically corrected.
UPPP (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty): If the throat tissues are loose or enlarged, such a surgery tightens the throat tissues to reduce snoring
Radiofrequency tissue ablation (somnoplasty): It is a new treatment that uses low-intensity radio waves to shrink the soft palate tissues.
Use of Oral Appliances
Dental mouthpieces called ‘oral appliances’ keep the air passage open, making it easier to breathe. This prevents snoring. There are many good quality oral appliances available which can be fitted by a dentist. They might also be helpful in preventing the condition of apnea. Technologically advanced non-invasive silicone anti-snoring devices like aveoTSD are also available for immediate relief from snoring.
CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure machine): This treatment is most recommended to treat sleep apnea. In this procedure, a pressurized air mask is worn on the nose while sleeping to keep the airway open. Although it is a preferred treatment for sleep apnea it can be a nuisance to the person sleeping beside the person taking the aid as it keeps making a humming sound.
Braided strands of a polyester filament are injected into the mouth’s soft palate to stiffens it to reduce snoring. It is also called pillar procedure.
Nasal strips and nasal dilators: Nasal strips and dilators keep the air passage open when the wearer suffers from nasal congestions due to cold or allergies.
For best results, consult a doctor for starting long-term treatment for snoring.