Overview of Snoring
Snoring is the sound that happens when air passes the relaxed tissues in your throat. This means that the tissues will vibrate when you breathe. Most people will snore occasionally. The problem with snoring is when the problem is chronic with no relief. Sometimes snoring means that there are other problems, but it mainly affects your sleep and your partners sleep. There are many lifestyle changes that may aid in no more snoring. There are also many medical devices or surgery options that will help too.
Symptoms of Snoring
Snoring is typically associated with obstructive sleep apnea. Not everyone who snores has this, but it is likely. If you think that you have obstructive sleep apnea, you will want to talk to your physician about testing to see if it is. Some other symptoms that are related to this are: poor attention span during the day, chest pain at night, breathing pauses during sleep, morning headaches, restless sleep, gasping for air at night, choking at night, restless sleep, or sore throat in the morning.
When to See a Doctor for Snoring
If you have any of the symptoms that are listed above, then you will want to see your physician. If you have a child that snores, you should ask the physician about it too. Most people notice that they are experiencing daytime sleepiness and have poor performance at work.
Causes of Snoring
While snoring is usually a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, it can be a sign of other things that are happening too. Other factors may be: weight, allergies, a cold, alcohol consumption, etc. The more your airway is narrowed, the more forceful the airflow becomes. The following conditions can affect the airway and will cause snoring: your overall mouth anatomy, sleeping position, sleep deprivation, nasal problems, or alcohol consumption.
If you have a low and thick soft palate, then your airway may be narrow. People that are also overweight will have extra tissues in the back of their throats that will do this as well. Snoring is most common when people are sleeping on their back. This is because gravity is having an effect on the throat and causes the airway to narrow. When you do not get enough sleep, then the throat will then relax even more. A deviated septum may also cause snoring. Too much alcohol can cause the throat muscles to relax and will cause excess snoring.
Risk Factors with Snoring
There are a variety of risk factors that are associated with snoring. Men are more likely to snore than women are. People who are overweight also have extra tissue in their throat which will also cause snoring. Any type of nasal problem or narrow airway can also put you at a greater risk. You are at a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea if you have family that also has a sleeping disorder.
Complications with Snoring
Most of the time, snoring is nothing more than an annoyance. Snoring can, however, disrupt your sleep and also your partners sleep. You may also be at a higher risk for daytime sleepiness and difficulty concentrating. People who have a snoring problem also have high blood pressure, frequent frustration, and an increased risk of behavioral problems. Many people that have sleeping problems, such as snoring, will are at a higher risk for a motor vehicle accident.
Diagnosis of Snoring
Your physician will ask you about your signs and symptoms and your medical history. Your physician will also perform a physical examination. If your partner comes to the appointment, the physician may ask them more questions about your snoring and severity. If you are attending the appointment with your child, the physician will ask you questions about your child’s snoring.
In some cases, the physician may recommend an imaging test, such as an x-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan. These tests will look for any airways problems or a deviated septum.
A sleep study may be a good next step to check on your breathing throughout the night. Our office offers home sleep testing. In some cases, this will prove to be more accurate than a sleep study that has been completed in a lab. This is because you are in your natural environment and do not feel like you are being tested. These sensors that are placed during a home sleep study will measure your heart rate, breathing rates, and blood oxygen level.
Treatment of Snoring
The first step to treat snoring is to change your lifestyle. You may need to lose weight, try a new sleeping position, get on a normal sleep routine, treat congestion, and avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime. For snoring that is caused by sleep apnea, you may need an oral appliance. This is a form fitting dental piece that will help position the jaw, soft palate, and tongue in a way to keep the air passage open.
A continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP), will require you to wear a mask over your nose and mouth while you are asleep. This machine will eliminate snoring and help you get a better night of sleep. This is the most reliable and effective way to treat sleep apnea.
In extreme cases, it is necessary to go through surgery to end your snoring. There are a variety of procedures that can be done to help the throat and nasal passages while you are sleeping.
If your partner keeps you awake at night with their snoring, you may be feeling frustrated. Try the various home remedies and lifestyle changes that have been recommended. If these do not help you and your partner to sleep better, then you may want to recommend that your partner sees one of our physicians. While you are waiting on the appointment, investing in some background noise or ear plugs may be helpful. If you purchase a fan or white noise machine, this may help to get rid of the sound of your partner sleeping so you can rest easier.