Snoring occurs when something restricts your air circulation during sleep. A noisy sleeper is more than an annoyance; it can be a sign of an underlying condition and can lead to serious health complications such as heart attack, stroke and other health problems. There are steps you can take to stop snoring.

Snoring

What is snoring? 

Snoring occurs when air has difficulty passing through the mouth or nose. When air is forced through a congested area, the soft tissues in the mouth, nose, and throat collide and vibrate. The vibrations create a rattling, snorting or humming sound.

Snoring can interrupt sleep. Loud, prolonged (chronic) snoring can be a sign of a serious disorder, obstructive sleep apnea. Long-term snoring increases the risk of health problems such as decreased oxygen levels in the blood, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes. 

What is Obstructive sleep apnea? 

People with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing for 10 to 20 seconds during sleep; this can occur a few to hundreds of times per night. Snoring does not occur in every case of sleep apnea, and not all people who snore have sleep apnea, but anyone who is told they snore should consider obstructive sleep apnea as a possible cause. 

There are chemicals in the brain that trigger breathing, and these can fail in some people who snore. As a result, oxygen levels drop dramatically, leading to an increase in cortisone, adrenaline and other hormones. 

These hormones contribute to high blood pressure and irregularities of the heart and can cause or worsen heart failure, trigger heart attacks and even lead to sudden death. Even without snoring, people with obstructive sleep apnea have decreased oxygen levels in their system, which can damage the heart. 

Other causes of snoring? 

Almost everyone snores from time to time, including babies, children and adults. Some people snore more than others. Other causes of snoring are: 

  • Age – snoring occurs more frequently with age as muscle tone decreases and the airway narrows.
  • Alcohol and sedatives – alcoholic beverages and certain medications relax the muscles, restricting airflow into the mouth, nose, and throat.
  • Anatomy – a long soft palate (the back part of the mouth), enlarged adenoids, tonsils or a large tongue can make airflow through the nose and mouth difficult. A deviated septum (displaced cartilage in the nose) can block airflow.
  • Gender – snoring is more common in men.
  • Family history – snoring runs in the family. If a parent snores, you are more likely to snore too.
  • General health – a stuffy nose due to allergies and colds impedes airflow through the mouth and nose.
  • Pregnancy – pregnant women are more likely to snore due to hormonal changes and weight gain.
  • Weight – snoring and sleep-related breathing disorders are more common in people who are overweight or suffer from obesity.

How is snoring treated? 

Depending on the severity and other symptoms that accompany your snoring, and whether there is an underlying cause, treatment will vary. Remedies for snoring include: 

  • Lifestyle changes – abstaining from alcohol before bedtime, not smoking tobacco products, a different sleeping position, and a healthy weight can reduce snoring.
  • Medications – cold and allergy medications relieve nasal congestion and help you breathe freely.
  • Nasal strips – flexible bands that attach to the outside of your nose and keep the nasal passages open.
  • Oral appliances – wearing an oral appliance while you sleep keeps your jaw in the right position so air can flow through. Your healthcare provider might call it an oral appliance or mouth guard. A mouth guard used for other purposes, such as sports, will not fix snoring.
  • Surgery – in some cases, snoring and sleep-disordered breathing are treated with surgery to shrink or remove excess tissue or correct a structural problem. 

 

Snoring is annoying and disruptive. It may also be a symptom of a larger problem. If snoring continues for more than a few nights or is very loud, seek advice from a medical professional. Long-term snoring can lead to serious health problems, but you can take steps to reduce snoring. Contact The Back Clinic on 0630975603 or via email at info@thebackclinic.co.za

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