Snoring is the harsh or hoarse sound that occurs when air passes through the relaxed throat tissues – this causes vibration in the tissues as you breathe. Almost everyone snores now and then, but it can be a chronic problem for some people. Sometimes, snoring could also indicate an underlying health condition.
Several factors, such as the anatomy of your mouth and sinuses, a cold, and certain allergies, can cause snoring. When you fall in a deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your tongue, throat, and mouth relax just enough to block your airways partially, causing them to vibrate. The narrower the airways, the more forceful the airflow. This increases vibration in the tissues and prompts you to snore louder.
Besides, there are certain risk factors that increase your chances of snoring. These include –
Gender – men rather than women are more likely to snore
Being overweight – people with excessive body weight are susceptible to obstructive sleep apnoea, which is characterized by snoring
Drinking alcohol – as it relaxes the throat muscles and increases your chances of snoring
Nasal problems – a structural defect in the airways, like deviated septum puts you at a higher risk of snoring
Snoring is linked to Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, a common sleep disorder. However, not everyone who snores has OSA. If snoring is accompanied by the following symptoms, you may be at risk of OSA. So watch out for these signs –
Breathing pauses while asleep
Feeling sleepy during the day
Waking up with a sore throat
Choking or gasping at night
Chest pain at night
A rise in the blood pressure
Make an appointment with your doctor if you encounter the above symptoms, as they may suggest that your snoring is associated with OSA. In the case of children, talk to a specialist about throat and nose problems – these can cause your child to develop obstructive sleep apnoea.
The first step of diagnosis involves the doctor going through your medical history and reviewing the signs. He/she may also perform a physical examination.
Depending on the seriousness of snoring and the related symptoms, you might be advised for a sleep study. A sleep study involves performing an in-depth analysis of breathing while you are asleep. You will be connected to multiple sensors and kept under observation overnight.
A sleep study records the following information –
Oxygen level in the blood
Leg and eye movements
Your doctor will most likely recommend lifestyle changes to treat snoring.
Avoid drinking alcohol before going to bed
Treat nasal congestion
Avoid sleep deprivation
Avoid sleeping on your back
If snoring is caused due to obstructive sleep apnoea, you may be suggested the following –
Oral Appliances - These help advance the position of your tongue, jaw and the soft palate to open up your air passage.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – This involves putting up a mask over the mouth or nose while sleeping. The mask releases pressurized air from a tiny pump to the airways to keep it open when you are asleep.
Upper Airway Surgery – This refers to a number of procedures, like Maxillomandibular Advancement, Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, and Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation that work to open the upper airways and prevent its narrowing using a variety of techniques.
Snoring can be a problem for those who experience it, and a nuisance to others around them. Make sure you get yourself checked by an ENT and seek treatment for the same before it leads to a severe health complication.