You probably know someone who snores. Or perhaps you snore, yourself. And you probably don't consider it is a medical problem. However, although smoking is common, that does not make it normal. The fact is - snorers are three times more likely to suffer adverse health than non-snorers. Read on to learn the reasons you snore and other facts about it...
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What is Snoring?
Snoring - that loud grunting noise some people make when asleep - happens because of a blockage to the flow of air through air passages at the back of the mouth and nose.
The sound is from air turbulence vibrating the tissues in the upper airway. Snoring sounds can range from a low hum to sounds as noisy as a generator or machine engine.
We generally take smoking to be harmless (and very annoying to those who live with you) BUT it can suggest serious illness in some people.
Snoring can be hereditary - nearly 70% of snorers have someone in their family who also snores.
Who is Most Likely to Snore?
- People who are overweight.
- Regular consumers of Alcohol.
- Persons with a regular smoking habit.
- Those who have problems with internal organs like tonsils within the back of the throat or the soft tissues within the nose.
- Individuals who sleep flat on their back.
Can Snoring Harm You?
The effects of snoring are harmful. It causes poor sleep quality. Poor sleep quality worsens any pre-existing health problems.
Poor sleep quality affects your ability to learn new skills, leads to be irritability, even confusion.
Some studies suggest that if you snore regularly, you are more likely to develop hypertension, heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol than someone who snores only occasionally.
For a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, OSA, snoring is one of the main symptoms.
In OSA, people experience periods when they stop breathing during their sleep.
One of the symptoms of OSA is snoring.
- Feeling tired/sleepy during the day
- Restless sleep
- Dry, sore throat/mouth
- Being forgetful or irritable, anxious or depressed.
OSA is important because it can lead to other serious health conditions for example high blood pressure or abnormal heart rhythms.
More than 50% of patients with (OSA) have high blood pressure whereas only 25% of patients with high blood pressure have OSA
Snoring and Your Partner
As a snorer, you may not feel any effects - except for tiredness from lack of good sleep.
But what about your 'bed mate'?
Partners of people who snore do have a tough time:
- Bed partners of snorers report they have just 3-5 hours sleep per night
- They seem to have more medical issues than bed partners of non-snorers.
- Snorers (and their bed partners) tend to have more difficulty hearing than non-snorers and their partners.
- More than 30% of couples report some disharmony within their relationship due to snoring.
Reasons that You Snore
The 3 main factors that lead to snoring are: being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol.
Other problems can arise - for example changes in the tissues may exist which become worse if you smoke, take alcohol or are overweight.
- Blockage of the nasal passages - people who always have a 'blocked' nose that may be due to allergies or an infection in the sinus.
- But other conditions like a deviated nasal septum can cause the same problem; as can nasal polyps. A nasal polyp is a benign growth within the nostril that can grow to different sizes.
- Weak muscle tone is another problem - when the muscles of the throat and tongue are too relaxed, they fall back when a person is sleeping causing a blockage of the airway.
- But what could weaken the muscles? - Old age, alcohol, deep sleep and using sleeping pills are a few reasons.
- Changes to the structure of the throat tissue can affect snoring, too.
- Bulky throat tissue may develop in overweight people. This is also the reason that children with large adenoids and tonsils snore.
- A long uvula or soft palate - these structures are found at the back of the throat. If they are abnormally sized, they can reduce the space between the nose and throat blocking the airway and causing snoring.
Treatments for Snoring
This depends on the cause.
- Lifestyle changes like weight loss, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol consumption should top the list where necessary. Sleeping on ones side and using alternative sleeping aids instead of sleeping pills may also work.
- Medical devices are another method to manage some forms of snoring:
- The Mandibular Advancement Device is a tool worn in the mouth to bring the tongue forward. It is useful where the tongue partially blocks the back of the throat causing snoring.
- The Vestibular Shield is a chin strap to hold the mouth closed. It's also worn in the mouth to allow breathing through the nose while asleep. This is valuable for people whose mouths fall open while asleep.
- Nasal Dilators are special devices or strips that hold the nose open while sleeping.
- For cases where there is long term swelling - chronic allergy or sinus disease, Nasal Sprays to reduce swelling inside the nose could help.
- Surgery could be a treatment option in some cases - adenoids are an example where surgical treatment is successful. In many other cases, surgery doesn't always work - and may only temporarily solve the problem.
The benefits of treatment are several - for snorers and their family.
Studies also indicate that bed partners of snorers do get an improvement to their physical and mental health once the snorer has been treated successfully.
Editing By AskAwayHealth
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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