By Medifit Education.
SNORING & SLEEP
Snoring is the often loud or harsh sound that can occur as you sleep. You snore when the flow of air as you breathe makes the tissues in the back of your throat vibrate. The sound most often occurs as you breathe in air, and can come through the nose, mouth or a combination of the two. It can occur during any stage of sleep.
About half of people snore at some point in their lives. Snoring is more common in men, though many women snore. It appears to run in families and becomes more common as you get older. About 40 percent of adult men and 24 percent of adult women are habitual snorers. Men become less likely to snore after the age of 70.
Sleeping on your back may make you more likely to snore. It may also occur as your throat muscles relax from use of alcohol or other depressants. Congestion from a cold or allergies can also cause you to snore.
Forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally and 25 percent are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight people and usually worsens with age. Snoring may be an indication of obstructed breathing and should not be taken lightly. An otolaryngologist can help you to determine where the anatomic source of your snoring may be, and offer solutions for this noisy and often embarrassing behavior.
Snoring can be a nuisance to your partner and anyone else nearby. You may even snore loudly enough to wake yourself up. Though, in many cases people do not realize that they snore. Snoring can also cause you to have a dry mouth or sore or irritated throat when you wake up.
Light snoring may not disrupt your overall sleep quality. Heavy snoring may be associated with obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder and a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many other health problems.
While you sleep, the muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward, and your throat becomes narrow and “floppy.” As you breathe, the walls of the throat begin to vibrate – generally when you breathe in, but also, to a lesser extent, when you breathe out. These vibrations lead to the characteristic sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder your snoring. Sometimes the walls of the throat collapse completely so that it is completely occluded, creating a condition called apnea (cessation of breathing). This is a serious condition which requires medical attention.
In most people, the reason for snoring is not known. Some possible causes include:
Being overweight — the extra neck tissue puts pressure on the airways
Swelling of the tissue during the last month of pregnancy
Blockage in the nose caused by a crooked, bent, or deformed nasal septum (the structure that separates the nostrils)
Stuffed nose from a cold or allergies, especially if it lasts a long time
Changes in the mouth and throat, such as:
Swelling in the roof of the mouth (soft palate) or the uvula, the piece of tissue that hangs down in the back of the mouth. These areas may also be longer than normal.
Swollen adenoids and tonsils that block the airways
Poor muscle tone
A large area at the base of the tongue, or a tongue that is large compared to the mouth
Abnormalities in the bones of the face
Use of sleeping pills, antihistamines, or alcohol at bedtime
Sometimes snoring can be a sign of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. This means you have periods in which you completely or partly stop breathing for more than 10 seconds while you sleep.
The episode is followed by a sudden snort or gasp when you start breathing again. Then you start to snore again. If you have sleep apnea, this cycle usually happens many times a night. Sleep apnea is not as common as snoring.
When to Contact a Medical Professional?
Talk to your health care provider if you have:
- A change in your level of attention, concentration, or memory
- Been waking up in the morning not feeling rested
- Episodes of no breathing (apnea) — your partner may need to tell you if you are snoring loudly or making choking and gasping sounds
- Excessive daytime drowsiness
- Morning headaches
- Recent weight gain
Children with chronic snoring should also be tested for apnea. Sleep apnea in children has been linked to growth problems, ADHD, poor school performance, learning difficulties, bedwetting, and high blood pressure. Most children who snore do NOT have apnea, but a sleep study is the only way to tell for sure.
Treatment can improve snoring in some cases, but a complete cure isn’t always possible.
Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, are usually recommended first.
Anti-snoring devices, such as mouth guards or nasal strips, may help prevent snoring.
Surgery may be an option if anti-snoring devices don’t help. This often involves removing the soft tissue that causes snoring, or preventing the tissue from vibrating by causing it to tighten.
Surgery for snoring is usually regarded as a treatment of last resort. It’s important to be aware that surgery can often have a limited effect that doesn’t last longer than one or two years. It can also cause unpleasant side effects or complications.
Treatment depends on the diagnosis and level(s) of upper airway narrowing. In some cases, more than one area may be involved.
Snoring or OSA may respond to various treatments offered by many otolaryngologist head and neck surgeons:
- •Obstructive sleep apnea is most often treated with a device that opens the airway with a small amount of positive pressure. This pressure is delivered via a nasal mask worn during sleep. This treatment is called CPAP; it is currently the initial treatment of choice for patients with OSA.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is surgery for treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. It removes excess soft palate tissue and opens the airway. In addition, the remaining tissue stiffens as it heals, thereby minimizing tissue vibration. The size of the air passage may be further enlarged when a tonsillectomy is added to the procedure.
- Thermal ablation procedures reduce tissue bulk in the nasal turbinates, tongue base, and/or soft palate. These procedures are used for both snoring and OSA. Different methods of thermal ablation include bipolar cautery, laser, and radiofrequency. These procedures may be done in the operating room or during an office visit. Several treatments may be required.
- Methods to increase the stiffness of the soft palate without removing tissue include injecting an irritating substance that causes stiffness in the injected area near the uvula. Another method is inserting stiffening rods (Pillar implants) into the soft palate.
- Genioglossus and hyoid advancement is a surgical procedure for the treatment of sleep apnea. It prevents collapse of the lower throat and pulls the tongue muscles forward, thereby opening the obstructed airway.
- A custom-fit oral appliance, which repositions the lower jaw forward, may also be considered for certain patients with snoring/ OSA. This should be fitted by an otolaryngologist, dentist, or oral surgeon with expertise in sleep dentistry.
- In some patients, significant weight loss can also improve snoring and OSA.
DO YOU RECOMMEND THE USE OF OVER-THE-COUNTER DEVICES?
There is no specific device recommended. More than 300 devices are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as cures for snoring. Different methods include products that help a person avoid sleeping on their back, since snoring is often worse in that position. Some devices open nasal air passages; others have been designed to condition a person not to snore by producing unpleasant stimuli when snoring occurs. While a person may find a product that works for him or her, underlying poor sleep quality may remain.
SELF-HELP FOR THE LIGHT SNORER
Adults who suffer from mild or occasional snoring should try the following self-help remedies:
- • Adopt a healthy and athletic lifestyle to develop good muscle tone and lose weight.
- • Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime.
- • Avoid alcohol for at least four hours and heavy meals or snacks for three hours before retiring.
- • Establish regular sleeping patterns.
- • Sleep on your side rather than your back.
- • Elevate the head of your bed four inches.
By Medifit Education.