Last updated date: 20-Aug-2023
Originally Written in English
Snoring happens when the tissue in a person's upper air path vibrates, causing them to breathe loudly while sleeping. It's a frequent problem that most individuals will face at some point in their lives.
Snoring is typically overlooked as a severe health issue, but home remedies can help address it. There are also available medical treatments if home remedies do not work. Snoring can sometimes be a sign of a more chronic health issue. You should thus visit your doctor if it gets disruptive or if you exhibit additional symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Snoring
Snoring is frequently linked to a sleep problem known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). However, not all people who snore have this condition. When snoring involves other symptoms, you should consult a doctor or an ENT specialist for an OSA evaluation. These symptoms can include the following;
- Experiencing breathing pauses while asleep
- Excessive drowsiness during the day
- Concentration problems
- Headaches in the morning
- Having a sore throat when you waking up
- Sleepless nights
- Choking or gasping during the night
- Increased blood pressure
- Nighttime chest ache
- Too loud snoring that wakes up your partner.
- Low attention span, poor performances, and behavioral difficulties in children
Causes of Snoring
The air pushes through the nose, mouth, and throat whenever you breathe. But when the air path is obstructed, tissues tend to vibrate against each other while you attempt to force air through a limited airway. These tissues include the soft palate (the rear of the mouth’s roof), adenoids, tonsils, and tongue. The resulting vibrations produce a rattling, rumbling sound.
Some of the conditions that can lead to snoring in toddlers and adults by impacting the airway include;
- The structure of your mouth: Your airway can be narrower if you have a low and thick, soft palate. Obese people may have additional tissues behind their throats, causing their airways to narrow. Airflow can also get impeded while vibration increases if the triangular portion of tissue that hangs from the soft palate (uvula) is extended.
- Nasal issues: Snoring can occur due to a chronic nasal obstruction or a crooked barrier between the nostrils (deviated nasal septum).
- Consumption of alcohol: Snoring can be caused by drinking too much alcohol, especially before going to bed. Alcohol tends to weaken the natural defenses alongside air path congestion by relaxing your throat muscles.
- Sleeping position: Because the impact of gravity on the throat constricts the airway, snoring is most common and even louder when you lie on the back.
- Sleep deprivation: If you don't get enough sleep, your throat may relax even more, hence causing snoring.
Risk Factors of Snoring
The following risk factors can contribute to snoring in babies and adults;
- Gender: Male are more prone than females to snore or suffer from sleep apnea.
- Having a restricted airway: A lengthy soft palate, big tonsils, or adenoids in some persons can constrict the air path and induce snoring.
- Being obese: Overweight or obese people have higher chances of snoring or suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
- Having problems in the nose: Snoring is more likely if you have a structural problem in your air path, including a deviated septum. It can also occur if your nose is frequently congested.
- Taking alcohol: Because alcohol triggers relaxation of the throat muscles, you're more likely to snore if you drink often.
- Having a history of snoring or sleep apnea in your family: Sleep apnea is linked to a family history of the condition.
In most cases, your partner could be the person who informs you about your snoring habits. The healthcare provider will inquire about your symptoms from both of you. He or she will also ask about your previous medical history.
If need be, you will undergo a physical examination to check for factors that could restrict your air paths. They include chronic nasal congestion caused by sinusitis or rhinitis, swollen tonsils, or a deviated septum. Your ENT specialist might also recommend additional tests such as;
- Imaging tests
Imaging tests like x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scan, may be ordered to diagnose snoring. These tests look for issues within the structure of the air path, including a deviated septum.
- Sleep study
Your provider may recommend a sleep study based on the seriousness of your snoring and associated symptoms. Sleep studies can at times be performed in the comfort of one's own home.
On the other hand, you may have to spend the night at a medical facility to undergo polysomnography. This is a study that examines your breathing as you sleep. The procedure will depend on your other medical issues and any other sleeping symptoms.
Polysomnography involves connecting you to various sensors and monitoring you for the entire night. The following data is collected during the sleep study:
- Brain waves
- Levels of oxygen in the blood
- Heart rhythm
- Rate of breathing
- Stages of sleep
- Movements of the eyes and legs
Treatment Options for Snoring
Your doctor can recommend the following treatments and solutions to snoring;
- Cutting off your weight: Snoring can be reduced or even eliminated by losing even a slight amount of weight which eventually reduces fat tissue behind the throat.
- Stop smoking: If you are a smoker, you're more likely to snore. Smoking tends to irritate the membranes around the nose and throat, causing airway blockage and snoring. Although quitting may sound simple, it can provide immediate relief from snoring.
- Quit using alcohol, sedatives, and sleeping pills: Because alcohol, sleeping medications, and sedatives bring muscle relaxation around the throat and obstruct your breathing, the doctor recommends quitting. Also, discuss any prescription drugs you are using with your doctor since some of them promote a more profound sleep rate, which might exacerbate snoring.
- Changing sleeping position: The bottom of the tongue, as well as the soft palate, can compress against the throat rear wall when you sleep on your back, generating a vibrating sound. It's possible that sleeping on your side will help you avoid this.
Oral appliances refer to custom-fit dental mouthpieces designed to help keep the tongue, jaw, and soft palate in the proper position. Hence, your airway remains open, and air can flow.
If you are considering an oral appliance, you and your dentist will work together to optimize the appliance and position it. You will as well consult with your sleep specialist to ensure that the oral appliance is functioning properly.
The fit examination and your dental health assessment are essential. Hence, you may need to visit the dentist at least once in six months for the first year and once a year after that.
You should, however, note that wearing these devices can result in excessive salivation, jaw pain, dry mouth, or facial discomfort.
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure):
This method entails sleeping with a mask covering your nose or mouth. To maintain your airway open while sleeping, the mask delivers pressured air from a small bedside pump. Generally, CPAP helps stop snoring and is commonly used to address snoring linked to sleep apnea.
Even though CPAP is the most dependable and successful treatment for OSA, other patients find it somewhat uncomfortable or experience difficulty adjusting to the machine's noise or the feeling.
Upper airway surgical procedure:
Several snoring surgeries aim to widen the upper airway and stop severe constriction during sleep using a range of strategies. In a treatment known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), for instance, you receive general anesthetics. The surgeon then tightens and cuts out extra tissues from the throat, essentially through the throat facelift.
Alternatively, the upper and lower jaws can be moved forward in a surgical procedure known as maxillomandibular advancement (MMA). This helps expand the airway. A low-intensity radiofrequency signal contracts tissue around the tongue, soft palate, or nose via radiofrequency tissue ablation.
Complications of Snoring
Snoring on a regular basis could be more than a nuisance. You might be at risk for additional complications if your snoring is linked to OSA. These complications include;
- Sleeping lightly: Waking up so frequently throughout the night disrupts your regular sleep pattern. This forces you to spend a lot of time in light sleep rather than a better restorative and deep sleep.
- Straining on your heart: Prolonged obstructive sleep apnea increases blood pressure and might cause the heart to grow larger. This increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Inadequate sleep at night: Having a poor night’s sleep makes you feel sleepy during the day, lowers your quality of life. It also increases your risk of having car accidents.
Snoring can be annoying and a nuisance. It could also be an indication of something more serious. Therefore, speak with your provider if your snoring lasts more than a few nights or is particularly loud. Snoring for a longer time might cause significant health problems.
Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle can help you stop snoring. Inquire with your doctor about the available treatments that will make it simpler for you to breathe, sleep better, and even feel more refreshed.