Snoring is a sound that occurs during sleep due to breathing. It is a common problem and is generally not thought of as a serious problem. It is estimated that 90 million adults in America snore; 37 million of these people snore regularly. It can affect persons of any age but it worsens with age. In addition, men and those who are overweight are affected the most.
Snoring one in a while is not serious though it could be a nuisance to the person you share with a bed. Regular snoring is not only a problem to the bed partner but also affects your sleep quality. Professional help is needed for those who snore on a regular basis.
How Snoring Occurs
During sleep, throat muscles relax while the tongue falls backwards and these two events have the effect of causing the throat to be narrow. As you breathe during sleep the throat and its wall vibrate as you breathe causing snoring. A louder snoring sound is produced as you breathe in than when you breathe out.
Snoring is also louder as the airways and throat become narrow. In some cases the throat may become too narrow and collapse completely leading to apnea. Apnea is when breathing stops momentarily especially during sleep.
Causes of Snoring
People snore when air flow through the mouth and nose is interfered with physically. This physical obstruction can be caused by:
- Nasal obstruction: a sinus infection or an allergy that occurs seasonally can cause someone to snore. Nasal deformities such as deviated septum or nasal polyps are possible causes.
- Weak tongue and nose muscle: if your tongue and nose are weak then they easily cause your throat to become narrow making you to snore.
- Soft palate and long uvula: if you have a soft palate and/or a long uvula they would vibrate and bump on each other leading to frequent snores.
Snoring, especially if it occurs regularly, is associated with serious health risks:
- Stress and strain on the heart: the heart is forced to pump harder in order to supply oxygen to all the tissues. Straining causes the heart to become larger and the risk of high blood pressure increases. Snorers are more likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes.
- Sleepwalking is associated with this problem and can be dangerous.
- Daytime drowsiness and sleepiness due to poor sleep at night.
- People who snore tend to remain at NREM (the light stage of sleep) so as not collapse the throat completely.
Treatment and Coping with Snoring
People who snore usually do not know of the problem and have to be informed. If you find yourself waking up at night gasping for air then it could be that you were from a snoring session. If you are overweight, then losing weight not an option so as to stop it. Obesity adds a layer of weight on the throat that can make you to snore. In fact, this is the only remedy you need if snoring started with weight gain.
- Avoid sleeping on your back, instead sleep on the side.
- Avoid drugs that make your throat to narrow such as tranquilizers and antihistamines before bedtime.
- Avoid heavy meals or alcohol 4 before going to bed.
Some cases of this problem need to be treated by surgery. Others can be treated using appliances. You need to see a sleep specialist to discuss treatment options.