Snoring: Causes and Treatments

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • Snoring is a nerve-racking noise that disrupts your sleep and the sleep of anyone who is in the same room (or even house) as you. There have even been stories of people being asked to leave their hotel rooms because their snoring was disturbing other guests.

     

    What causes snoring anyway?

     

    CAUSES

     

    • Obesity. Obesity causes excess fatty tissue in the throat area that tends to make breathing difficult.
    • Fleshy or deformed uvula. The small fleshy protrusion dangling downward visibly at the back of the mouth attached to the rear of the soft palate.
    • Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids. Again, this tends to block the air passages.
    • Blockage of nasal passages. This can be from allergies, colds, sinus problems or a deviated septum.
    • Age. As we grow older, the flesh and throat muscles tends to lose some of its elasticity and become flabby.
    • Alcohol and some drugs. These may relax the throat muscles, allowing fatty tissue in the throat area to sag and block airflow.
    • Sleeping on the back. Sleeping on your back can lead to or aggravate snoring as it allows the flesh of the throat to relax and block airways.
    • Sleep Apnea. Snoring may also be a sign of sleep apnea which, not surprisingly, has the same causes.

    Many snorers are of middle age or older, overweight, and may have a history of high blood pressure or heart disease. Snoring seems to affect more men than women, but is not exclusive to them. Even babies snore.

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    Although victims may not be aware of the fact, snoring disrupts sleep and can cause sleep deprivation. Concentration and mental abilities become weaker, the victim becomes moody and irritable, and physical health may suffer because sleep deprovation weakens the immune system.

     

    TREATMENT

     

    • Try to sleep on your side. As mentioned above, people tend to snore more when sleeping on their backs. There are special pillows available to help correct this problem. A simple method is to sew a tennis ball into a pocket on the back of your pajamas.  
    • Avoid or remedy colds, allergies and sinus problems. Many over-the-counter remedies for these conditions are available, or see your doctor.
    • Try using a chin strap. If you sleep with your mouth open,  This will help you keep your mouth shut and you will snore less.
    • Change your lifestyle. Avoid alcohol and smoking. If you are obese, try to lose some weight.
    • Various over-the-counter throat sprays. These may help, but can also be dangerous as they may mask the symptoms of sleep apnea.
    •  Mouthpieces. Your dentist may be able to fit you with a simple device that will reduce your snoring.
    • Snoreplasty. This involves an injection in the soft palate to make it stiffer.
    • Somnoplasty. This involves a needle connected to a radio frequency generator. It shrinks the inner tissues.
    • CPAP. The use of a machine used for treating sleep apnea may prove beneficial. It's called CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and consists of a face mask and an air pump that keeps you're your airways from collapsing.
    • Surgery. To remove tonsils, adenoids or change the shape of the mouthy or jaws.

    If you think snoring is disrupting your sleep, or if you've had complaints from bed partners or roommates, it may be time you looked for help. Treatment is available. Always eliminate the possibility of sleep apnea before using any method to control snoring.

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    Read Dr. Allen Blaivas' blog Snoring and Sleep Apnea.

     

     

Published On: February 25, 2008