Snoring is extremely common: 45 percent of American adults snore occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. While many consider it a mere nuisance, snoring is actually a sleep disorder that can be the sign of a serious medical condition.
What Causes Snoring?
When you sleep, your tongue, throat muscles and soft palate relax. If they relax too much, they can droop backward and block the airway, vibrating together when you breathe. This causes the telltale noisy sounds associated with snoring. The more the airway is obstructed, the louder the snoring will be.
There are several factors that increase the odds you will snore. People with bulky throat tissue or an enlarged soft palate are more at risk for snoring, as are those who experience frequent nasal congestion, have a deviated septum, nasal polyps, enlarged tonsils or adenoids as well as those who drink alcohol before bedtime.
The typical snorer is overweight, male and over the age of 40. Snoring tends to worsen with age. In some individuals, the airway becomes so obstructed that breathing is interrupted; this leads to a serious medical condition known as sleep apnea.
Tips for Quieting Your Snoring
If your snoring isn’t a complication of sleep apnea, implementing lifestyle changes may help eliminate the problem. Useful tips include:
- Sleeping on your side instead of your back
- Losing weight
- Avoiding alcohol before bedtime
- Treating allergies
- Eliminating tobacco smoke
If lifestyle modifications do not solve the problem, oral appliances that reposition the lower jaw may help. Another alternative is nasal breathing strips.
Some individuals might benefit from surgical techniques such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), where excess throat tissue is surgically removed to enlarge the airway. This may include the uvula, soft palate, tonsils, adenoids and/or pharynx.
Snoring is a problem that affects a large number of adults; about 45 percent of people snore at least occasionally, and one in five American adults are habitual snorers. It’s no laughing matter either: snoring can cause a rift in the strongest of relationships because it robs the spouse of rest and can lead to a variety of problems ranging from resentment to separate bedrooms.
Not only that, but snoring may be hazardous to your health; it is often the sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breath during sleep. This prevents the sufferer from getting restorative sleep and causes daytime drowsiness, irritability, confusion and loss of memory. It increases the risk of automobile accidents and can lead to serious medical complications including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
There are many treatment options for snorers, including medical procedures and natural remedies or simple lifestyle changes.
Call Great Lakes ENT Specialists at (231) 489-8151 for more information or to schedule an appointment.