Although it may be perceived as common, snoring is a serious health issue for both the person who snores and their bed partner. It can lead to long-term health problems if left untreated, particularly when accompanied by sleep apnea. If you snore, it is important to get a sleep study to determine if there is an underlying health condition present.
Anyone Can Snore
Snoring occurs when the upper airway becomes narrowed, resulting in vibrations and noise with each breath. The severity and frequency of snoring can vary, and it can be silent in cases of airway obstruction, which leads to sleep apnea and restlessness. This can put strain on the heart and increase the risk of various health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cerebrovascular disease, hormonal imbalances, daytime sleepiness, mood swings, among others. In children, snoring can negatively impact their physical, cognitive and emotional development. Therefore, it is important to not ignore the problem and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Types Of Snoring
There are several different types of snoring, each caused by different factors. Some common types of snoring include:
- Primary snoring: This is the most common type of snoring, caused by vibrations in the upper airway due to partial obstruction. This can be caused by factors such as obesity, alcohol consumption, and certain medications.
- Sleep apnea: This type of snoring is caused by complete obstruction of the upper airway, leading to difficulty breathing during sleep. This can cause frequent awakenings, daytime drowsiness and other health issue.
- Positional snoring: This type of snoring only occurs when sleeping in certain positions, usually on the back. It can be caused by the tongue or soft palate falling back in the throat, narrowing the airway.
- Loud snoring: This type of snoring is characterized by loud, disruptive snoring that can be caused by any number of factors, including obesity, alcohol consumption, and certain medications.
- Complex snoring: This type of snoring is caused by a combination of factors and can be caused by a range of underlying issues such as obesity, sleep apnea, and other medical conditions.
It’s important to note that snoring is not always an indication of a major health problem, but in some cases, it could be sign of serious issues like sleep apnea, obesity or other underlying health condition, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
People With Snoring Risks
There are several factors that can increase the risk of snoring, including:
- Obesity: Excess weight and fat deposits in the upper airway can narrow the airway, leading to snoring.
- Age: As people age, the muscles in the upper airway can weaken, making it more likely for the airway to collapse and cause snoring.
- Nasal congestion: A stuffy nose caused by a cold, allergy or sinus problem can make it harder to breathe through the nose, which can increase the risk of snoring.
- Alcohol consumption: Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the upper airway, making it more likely for the airway to collapse and cause snoring.
- Sleeping position: People who sleep on their back are more likely to snore than those who sleep on their side.
- Family history: If there is a family history of snoring or sleep apnea, an individual may have a higher risk of developing the same condition.
- Smoking: It can cause inflammation in upper airway and increases risk of snoring.
- Menopause: Hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause snoring in some women.
- Medications: Certain medications such as sedatives, tranquilizers and muscle relaxers can lead to snoring.
It’s important to note that these are just risk factors, and not everyone who has these characteristics will experience snoring. Additionally, snoring can also be caused by underlying health conditions such as sleep apnea or tonsillitis. If you think you may have a snoring problem, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
There are several methods that can be used to diagnose snoring and determine the underlying cause. These may include:
- Physical examination: A healthcare professional will examine the nose, throat, and neck for any physical abnormalities that could be causing the snoring.
- Medical history: The healthcare professional will take a detailed medical history, including any previous surgeries or medical conditions that may be contributing to the snoring.
- Sleep study: A sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram (PSG), can be used to evaluate the person’s sleep patterns, breathing, and movement during sleep.
- Actigraphy: A non-invasive test which can detect restlessness, insomnia, or sleep disorders by measuring the activity during the night
- Oxygen Saturation: A sensor is placed on finger to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood through the night.
- Home Sleep Apnea Test (HSAT) : A device which can be used at home to monitor sleep patterns, breathing and oxygen saturation levels overnight.
- CT scan and MRI: Imaging scans like CT and MRI can be used to evaluate the structures of the throat and upper airway, to help identify any anatomical abnormalities that may be causing the snoring.
After the diagnosis, the healthcare professional will be able to determine the underlying cause of the snoring, and suggest an appropriate treatment plan. This may include lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or avoiding alcohol close to bedtime, or it may include the use of devices such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or other medical devices. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to address any structural abnormalities causing the snoring.
Treatment for snoring depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Some common treatments include:
- Lifestyle changes: Making changes to your lifestyle, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and certain medications, and sleeping on your side can help reduce snoring.
- Oral appliances: Devices such as a mandibular advancement splint (MAS) or tongue-retaining device can help keep the airway open during sleep.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): A machine that delivers a steady stream of air through a mask worn over the nose or mouth, which can help keep the airway open during sleep.
- Surgery: Certain surgical procedures, such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can help remove excess tissue in the throat and upper airway to reduce snoring.
- Nasal decongestant: Can help reduce nasal congestion and snoring.
- Inspiratory muscle trainer (IMT) : Can strengthen the muscles of the upper airway, helping to prevent collapse and reduce snoring.
It’s important to note that not all treatments will work for every individual, and your healthcare professional will be able to recommend the best course of action based on your specific case. Additionally, if the snoring is caused by underlying condition such as sleep apnea or other health issue, then treating that primary issue could alleviate the snoring.
It is important not to ignore snoring as it may be a sign of an underlying health concern. Proper treatment can improve sleep quality and overall health. Consult a healthcare professional for an evaluation and to determine the best course of action for your specific case.