Snoring Causes & Treatments
What causes snoring? Nearly everyone snores now and then, but for some people, it can be a chronic problem. Sometimes it may also indicate a serious health condition. In addition, snoring can be a nuisance to your partner.
For one thing, obesity, particularly around the neck, causes additional fatty deposits in the throat narrowing the air passage – you gain weight on the inside as well as on the outside. At the same time, drinking alcohol causes greater muscle relaxation during sleep than normally occurs, and can result in an abnormally floppy upper airway. Also, breathing through the mouth may cause snoring because tissues at the back of the mouth are more floppy than at the back of the nose.
A blocked nose makes the person breathe through their mouth that causes snoring. It creates a vacuum inside the throat, which may suck air passages closed. In addition, sleeping on the back may cause the tongue to fall backward and block the airway. Snoring is almost always worse on the back and wearing a device to force you to sleep on your side may help snoring.
Other factors that causes snoring
Additionally, abnormal lumps such as nasal polyps, a large tongue or thyroid swellings can narrow the airway. In children, large tonsils and adenoids are a common cause of snoring. Another reason is that it’s due to allergies, hayfever and smoking may lead to narrowed nasal passages and aggravate snoring.
There are also instances it is due to inherited factors that causes snoring. Variations in the shape of the jaw, airway, face or nose may result in some people having a small airway. Moreover, medications can cause throat muscle relaxation, e.g sleeping tablets, anesthetic drugs, oral steroids and epilepsy drugs.
So, should snoring be treated?
Although many people snores, less than 5% of people have sought help from their doctor for snoring. However, if your snoring is a concern to you or others you should definitely seek help. The first step is to discuss it with your own doctor. It is a good idea to take your sleeping partner(if you have one) to the doctor with you, to fill in the gaps regarding what happens to you when you’re asleep. Your doctor may suggest a referral to a specialist in sleep disorders.
What tests are available to investigate snoring?
The specialist will take a detailed history and examine your chest, heart, blood pressure, nose and throat. A test to investigate snoring and rule out more serious things like sleep apnea is usually recommended before undertaking any treatment. This is called a sleep study and is performed in a special sleep unit with a number of private, quiet, single rooms. Simple non-invasive equipment is used to measure your sleep and breathing. Sleep studies done in your own home may be an alternative in some cases.
Lifestyle factors can help snoring. If you are overweight, weight loss may reduce snoring. Avoiding alcohol, at least for four hours before sleep may also be helpful. If you suffer from allergies such as hay fever, avoiding trigger factors such as dust, cats, and dogs may also help snoring.
Medical treatments for snoring
A number of medical treatments which is discussed thoroughly to one of our blogs, offer varying degrees of success in treating snoring. Some of these may not have been studied to see if they remain effective in the long term.
· Nasal CPAP treatment is the best treatment for sleep apnea and it is also very effective for snoring but many
people find the mask and pump inconvenient. Due to the need to wear every night.
· Mandibular Advancement Devices are similar to mouth guards but push the jaw forward to make a larger
airway. They are not effective for everyone and require fitting by a dentist or oral surgeon
· Operations on the nose may be helpful if nasal blockage causes mouth breathing or airway collapse. Making
sure you have a clear nasal airway is usually the first line of treatment.
· Tonsillectomy is a common operation and often effective for snoring children. In adults with large tonsils it
may also help.
If you want to know more on snoring and how to cure it, let’s chat.