Categories: Sleep Disorders

Snoring: Causes and Cures

Medical Disclaimer: No claims are made for cures of any type within the following blog post. Check with your physician before following any regimen for snoring or any other medical issues you may be facing.

Snoring is a common phenomenon, with a recent survey estimating that approximately 50% of the population of the United States snore at some time or other during their life. Snoring can affect people of all ages, including children, although it is more common in people who are between the ages of 40 and 60. Twice as many men snore than women.

Some people snore infrequently and the sound they make is not particularly loud, while others may snore every night, and often even loud enough to be heard in the next room. Healthcare professionals now use grading systems to assess a person’s snoring, and the higher the grade, the more severe is the person’s snoring. If you find that your snoring is causing excessive tiredness and poor concentration, or even relationship problems with your partner, you should report this to your doctor, who will advise you on the best form of treatment to resolve it.

Excessive daytime sleepiness is particularly problematic because it increases the risk of a road traffic accident, and the American Automobile Association estimates that approximately one in four road traffic accidents are the result of excessive sleepiness (as many as 15% involve a fatality). Excessive daytime sleepiness as a result of snoring can also cause accidents with the use of machinery at work, and particularly with equipment such as cranes and forklift trucks.

Snoring can sometimes indicate a more serious related condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where a person’s airways repeatedly become partially or totally blocked for about 10 seconds throughout the night. See your doctor immediately if you wake up gasping or choking during the night, as these are indications of serious potential health concerns. OSA is particularly related to diabetes, cardiovascular problems such as strokes and heart attacks, and numerous other dangerous conditions.

If your child snores you should also speak to your GP.

Snoring is caused by vibration of the soft tissue in your head and neck, as you breathe in and out during sleep. This includes the nasal passages, the soft palate in the roof of your mouth, and your tonsils. While you sleep, your airways relax and narrow. This affects air pressure within your airways, which causes the tissue to vibrate. This can also happen if your airways are partially blocked, for example if you have a cold. Your chances of snoring can be increased dramatically by factors such as being overweight, drinking alcohol, and smoking. Alcohol and heavy meals should be avoided if possible for several hours before going to bed. Treatment can improve snoring in many cases, but a complete cure is not always possible.

It is sometimes possible to treat snoring with lifestyle changes, but further treatment is also available if these don’t help.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are usually advised by your doctor as a first step to treat snoring, and these usually include:

  • Losing weight if you are overweight
  • Not drinking alcohol, particularly in the few hours before you go to bed
  • Giving up smoking
  • Engaging in regular exercise, which helps to strengthen neck muscles, and may help prevent the airways in your neck and mouth from narrowing

If you feel your medication may be contributing to your snoring, talk to your doctor. He may be able to prescribe alternatives. However, do not stop taking prescribed medication without your doctor’s instruction to do so.

If your snoring is worse when you are sleeping on your back, you may find sleeping on your side beneficial. The old remedy of wearing a top with a pocket stitched between the shoulder blades and a putting a tennis or golf ball in the pocket can help to keep you off your back as you sleep.

There are also numerous anti-snoring devices available, such as mouth guards or nasal strips that may help prevent snoring. Your dentist can advise you on an appropriate oral mouthpiece, similar to those which are worn for some sports, which by moving the lower jaw forward slightly, keeps your airways open while asleep, and eliminates snoring as a consequence.

If anti-snoring devices don’t help, then surgery may be an option. This often involves removing soft tissue that causes the snoring, or preventing the tissue from vibrating by causing it to tighten. However, surgery for snoring is usually regarded as a last resort. It is important to be aware that surgery can often have a limited effect that doesn’t last longer than one or two years, and can cause unpleasant side effects or complications.

Snoring is, however, easily and quickly treated in most cases and all of this can be avoided – but seek professional advice as soon as you can – and don’t delay.

Biography

John Redfern spent 15 years at leading International Advertising agencies in London before moving into a consultancy role. He has long experience of writing on important matters of personal health and has had in-depth involvement in a broad spectrum of subjects in this area, covering all possible age groups.

Through his work as a consultant to SleepPro, John has acquired an in-depth knowledge of sleep disorders, snoring and sleep apnea, and the many serious health problems with which they are so closely associated.

He has spent time developing projects for the British National Health Service, some major educational groups and authorities, various voluntary organizations and several of the international manufacturers whose aim is to focus on family health, fitness and well-being.

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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