An estimated 90 million people in the country snore while sleeping. There is a good chance that half of the people may be simple snorers, while the other half may be suffering from one of the more severe conditions known as obstructive sleep apnea. However, before we elucidate the causes of snoring and the best treatment for these conditions, it is necessary to understand what is snoring and how does it work.
Snoring is nothing but noisy breathing during sleep. The basic reflex is the vibration of soft tissue that results in obstruction of smooth airflow distinguished by its sound. However, there are different types of snoring that have been categorized to find an easy cure.
Closed mouth – When the tongue falls back into the throat obstructing the airway, an involuntary muscle reflex results in closed mouth snoring.
Open mouth – Loss of muscle tone at the back of the throat will result in open mouth snoring. The collapsed muscle results in obstruction of air.
Snoring in all types of sleeping positions – If one experiences snoring is all sleeping positions as opposed to snoring while sleeping on one’s back, then it is a major cause for concern.
One of the most common reasons for snoring is the interrupted movement of air through the nose and throat. A partially closed upper airway that consists of the nose and throat can result in snoring. The following conditions and factors can all trigger unwarranted snoring that disrupts a good night’s sleep.
Alcohol before sleep – Alcohol is a good muscle relaxant, and having a drink before going to sleep can cause snoring. The alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat and airway causing them to slacken and vibrate during breathing. Snoring is a direct result of this vibration. Usually, the effects of alcohol consumption wear down during the night. Regular consumption of alcohol is among the most common causes of snoring.
Sleeping posture – There are several types of snoring that are the result of improper sleeping position. That’s right, even the way one sleeps at night can trigger snoring. For example, sleeping on one’s back can cause the airway to collapse inward blocking the airway, thus resulting in vibration. The prolonged collapse of the airway can result in sleep apnea, a condition that leads to a pause in breathing, gasping, and choking.
Physical conditions – Physical ailments that affect the nose and throat can also trigger snoring. Common conditions include a deviated septum, nasal polyps (soft growths), enlarged tonsils, and adenoids. A deviated septum causes one side of the nasal wall to shift to the other side, thus blocking optimum airflow. Nasal polyps on the inside of the nasal cavity will also obstruct the airway. Seasonal allergies can also result in intermittent bouts of snoring. Most conditions affect the area at the back of the mouth and the beginning of the throat. They increase the risk of chronic snoring problems.
Age – Age is among one of the more common causes of snoring. Changes in sleeping habits, preferences, and the fact that the throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed during old age results in the vibration of the throat muscles.
Obesity – Excess weight results in poor muscle tone throughout the body and increases the tissue mass around the muscle and throat. This increased muscle tone puts pressure on the airway, making it more vulnerable to collapse when the throat muscles relax during sleep. Prolonged obesity can result in complications, including sleep apnea, that could get worse over time if you’re unable to bring your weight under control. Snoring can also lead to sleep deprivation, which interferes with the hormones that suppress one’s appetite.
Pregnancy – Women may commonly experience the growth of tissue in the throat — this occurs due to hormonal changes in the body as a result of pregnancy. The bulky tissue here triggers snoring as an involuntary reflex. It is not a major trigger, but nevertheless one of the known causes of snoring.
Smoking – Smoking results in compound breathing problems as the smoke directly irritate the upper airway, the throat, the uvula, the tongue, and the soft palate that forms the tissue. This irritation can result in swelling that obstructs the smooth flow of air through the nose and throat. The risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma is quite high among people who smoke. It also results in the inflammation of the airway, thereby leading to snoring. Smoking is also among the prevalent causes of snoring.
Prescription medications – Several prescription medications are loaded with muscle relaxants that cause the muscle tissue in the airway to collapse. Painkillers can sometimes result in respiratory suppression that causes breathing difficulties at night. Avoid the use of muscle relaxants to reduce the risk of suffering from sleep apnea. It is also recommended to not rely heavily on sleeping pills as these pills can force a person to sleep through the snoring without even relaxing its adverse effects on the body.
Apart from noise being the main symptom of snoring, a person also suffers from the following discomforts.
Depending on the severity of snoring, the following treatment options are advisable.
Snoring devices – Mandibular advancement devices and tongue-retaining mouthpieces can help keep the airway more open, thus allowing air to flow freely. ZQuiet®, VitalSleep, and Good Morning Snore Solution are among the top 3 anti-snoring device providers. ZQuiet® is easy to clean and maintain. It is made of soft medical grade plastic and doesn’t obstruct natural breathing for better sleep. VitalSleep offers different sizes for men and women for better functionality, and it can be worn over dentures. Good Morning Snore Solution works well with implants, crowns, and dentures that are designed to fit comfortably in your mouth without hurting the jaw. Here are some features of these 3 devices:
Surgery – For severe cases of snoring that may result in health complications, doctors often recommend surgery. Procedures include a somnoplasty, laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, palatal implants, and tonsillectomy.
One can also make lifestyle choices to reduce the consumption of alcohol and to quit smoking. An individual can also change one’s living space to combat airborne irritants, and avoid prolonged use of sleeping pills, antihistamines, and other sedatives.