Snoring is an issue which makes it really hard for people who are suffering from it to lead a normal life. It’s not possible for most people to sleep while having a loud snoring partner in bed with them. Besides, snoring also affects people in all walks of their life. If you are suffering from the issue of snoring you will know how embarrassing it is to snore while travelling in the night or bunking with your friends on a business trip. This social stigma about snoring makes it really hard for patients to accept the problem and get suitable treatment for the same.
Understanding you have a snoring issue is the first step to get rid of it. It might seem difficult in the beginning to accept that you have a flaw, but the more time you take to accept it will worsen the situation costing you relationships and a lot of social embarrassment. Also, snoring can be a precursor for a bunch of serious health issues that can affect both your cardiac and neurological health. In this article, we will try and give you an idea about the causes of snoring, the treatments for it, and some of the home remedies you can use to manage your snoring.
- What is Snoring?
- Causes of Snoring:
- Treatments for Snoring:
- Home Remedies for Snoring:
- Exercises to Stop Snoring:
- Snoring: Infographic
What is Snoring?
Snoring is nothing but the peculiar vibrations that are produced while the air passes through your respiratory tract while you breathe during sleep. It’s a very marginal problem and the people who are suffering from it might not recognize they have an issue of snoring until someone tells it to them. Most medical practitioners consider snoring to be the initial sign of a medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea(OSA).
There are various factors that can cause snoring, about which we will be discussing in detail in the below sections. For the most part, people find their snoring partners to be annoying because of the difficulties they face while sleeping next to them. The problem can also cause serious sleep disorders for other people too, which in turn can affect their overall health. In simple terms we can say that snoring occurs when the airway between the throat and mouth are having a physical obstruction, causing the air to produce sound when it passes through these obstacles.
While sleeping the muscles and tissues in your throat and mouth will come to a relaxed position which makes it easy to be moved by a moving flow of air, this relaxation causes the muscles to flutter when the air passes through the physical obstruction, producing the sound of snoring. The severity of snoring increases with age, therefore, it’s essential that people who snore regularly while sleeping needs to consult a doctor before the issue becomes worse as they age.
In the below section we will be discussing the causes of obstruction in the air pathways which causes the person to snore during sleep.
Causes of Snoring:
Snoring despite looking like a harmless condition can cause severe health problems if left untreated for a long period of time. Obstructive sleep apnea which is characterized by the classic symptom of snoring can have very hazardous effects on your brain and your cardiac health. Lack of deep sleep due to constant blockage in airflow does not allow your brain to completely shut down and get enough rest.
Some of the major problems that can cause snoring are listed below:
1. Mouth Structure:
The inbuilt anatomy of your mouth matters a lot when it comes to the issue of snoring. Since the relaxed muscles on the upper palate of the mouth and in the throat are clear players in making one snore, it’s also important to note that people who have abnormally soft and thick muscle tissue in their mouth and throat are more prone to start snoring. These tissues flow down when they are relaxed and cause severe blockage to the airflow from the nose to the lungs.
2. Elongated Uvula:
Uvala is the triangular structure that always keeps hanging down from the top of your mouth. For some people, the length of Uvula will be a bit high causing it to come in the way of the air that is pulled in while you breathe. It causes an additional blockage besides the already relaxed throat and mouth tissues. The peculiar structure of the uvula can also cause an increased vibration to the sound of snoring.
3. Block in Nasal Airways:
This is one of the main reason why some people only snore during allergy or cold season. This causes the nasal airways to block due to mucus accumulation in the nostril or related areas. Having a filled sinus can also increase the chances of snoring. Yet another factor related to nasal airway which can cause snoring is the misalignment of the septum, classified under the condition of a deviated septum. A septum is the wall between both your nostrils which separate them from each other, a bend or a curve in this wall can cause snoring to be extreme, especially when the person is having a cold.
Obesity can cause what the medical practitioners call as a bulky throat. Basically what this means is that, when a person is extremely fat, they develop some extra tissues behind their neck which also follow the same principle of relaxation during the night time. This excessive tissue can also cause obstruction to the airway causing the person to snore.
5. Alcohol Abuse:
Getting extremely drunk right before going to bed can be extremely relaxing for your throat muscles which can increase the chances for snoring. It’s common among most alcoholics to snore after they go into a state of deep sleep.
6. Sleep Deprivation:
Sleep deprivation is yet another cause that can lead to snoring issues. It might come as a surprise to many that how lack of sleep can contribute to a condition that occurs when one sleeps. This happens because of the fact that lack of sleep makes your body to activate certain systems that will relax your throat muscles more than usual when you go to sleep. Therefore a lack of sleep can also act as an important factor that can lead to snoring.
Also Read: What are Some Interesting Facts of Sleeping?
7. Position of Sleep:
Most people find that they snore more when they sleep on their back. This is because of gravity, it allows your throat to become more narrow than while sleeping on a side. Combined with the relaxed muscles and the uvula this condition can be very alarming to people who snore in their sleep. Try sleeping on a side to avoid the noise of extreme snoring.
Treatments for Snoring:
Now that you have understood the various reasons that can cause the issue of snoring, let’s focus on the ways in which you can treat this issue and bring back a peaceful sleep to you and your loved ones. Treatment for snoring can be usually managed by making some lifestyle and physical changes, however, if snoring is accompanied by OSA the doctors will ask you to follow much more serious treatment methods. In the below section we will discuss some of the most common treatment methods used against snoring.
1. Use of Oral Appliances:
These appliances refer to form fitted dental contraptions that can adjust the shape and position of the anatomy of the mouth including the jaws, the palates and the mandibular providing more space for the air to flow freely. These equipment have to be designed according to the instructions of the dental specialist.
The dentist will calculate the exact dimensions of adjustments that will be required to ensure that air passes freely through the nasal pathways. If you are using oral appliances you need to have a certain level of commitment which involves regular visit to your dentist and the regular use of the appliance until the problem is rectified.
2. CPAP Mask:
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask is a pump operated medical apparatus which will ensure the flow of pressurised air through your nasal pathways ensuring that it remains open throughout the sleep. This is one of the most effective and non-invasive methods for treating the issue of snoring.
People who use CPAP mask can sleep without the tension of snoring and has been highly effective in treating patients suffering from OSA.
However, some users find it difficult to sleep when the sound of the bedside pump disturbs them, yet with time people get used this sound same as the air-conditioner and can attain deep sleep without having to undergo any painful surgical procedures.
3. Surgical Procedures:
In extreme cases, snoring can be cured using surgical procedures based on the upper mouth palate. The surgeon will try to trim and tighten the tissue inside the throat and the upper region of the mouth to ensure that very little tissue will be left to relax and block the airway causing snoring. Some of the most commonly used surgical procedures for curing the issue of snoring are listed below:
- UPPP: Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a surgical procedure which aims at reducing the size of tissues causing snoring
- MMA: MaxilloMandibular Advancement is yet another surgical procedure wherein the surgeon will try to push your upper and lower jaw forward to allow more space at the back of your mouth to let the air flow freely.
- Radiofrequency Ablation: This is also a surgical procedure wherein low-frequency radio waves are used to shrink the extra size of the tissues in the mouth and throat to reduce the obstruction to the nasal pathway.
- Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation: This is a comparatively new surgical procedure wherein the nerves are stimulated in a way that it blocks the tongues tendency to move backwards while taking a breath and thereby increasing the obstruction to the nasal pathway.
Home Remedies for Snoring:
Besides the medical procedures, simple snoring without the accompaniment of obstructive sleep apnea can be treated by making some simple changes in your lifestyle and following some home remedies. Some of the most commonly used home remedies to stop snoring are listed below.
- Lose Weight: Snoring that is caused due to obesity can be easily rectified if you put in some effort into losing those extra pounds. You can see the difference in the amount of snoring as soon as you start losing a little weight. The excessive tissues in the throat caused due to obesity will slowly disappear as you exercise enough to burn the extra fat and obtain a healthy body weight.
- Change the Posture of Sleep: Changing the position in which you choose to sleep can help a lot in reducing snoring. As discussed earlier, the extra gravity while sleeping on your back will increase the obstruction in your throat by making it narrower. Sleeping on the side is a very effective remedy to stop this issue.
- Raise Your Head While Sleeping: Keeping your head in a raised position about 4 inches than usual can significantly help in reducing snoring. This is because using extra pillows to get an elevation to your head brings out more space in your throat allowing the air to flow freely.
- Use Nasal Strips: Use of nasal strips, which are basically adhesive strips to be applied on the nostril to keep it open can help in reducing snoring a lot. These strips ensure that the nostrils operate at a maximum capacity making the air flow without any obstruction due to the structural challenges in the nose.
- Use Nasal Dilators: Nasal Dilators are adhesive strips that are applied externally across the nostrils to allow the air to pass through freely. These home remedies, however, won’t be effective against snoring which is accompanied by OSA. Use of nasal dilators may seem a bit difficult in the initial stage but the person will grow used to it soon.
- Treat Chronic Congestion: Chronic congestion in the nasal pathways can only make the issue of snoring worsen. It’s essential that you use proper medication including nasal sprays to ensure that congestion caused due to allergy does not contribute to the causes of snoring.
- Limit Alcohol: As discussed earlier, the use of alcohol can make the condition of snoring even worse. The relaxation alcohol gives to your throat tissues can lead to serious obstruction in the nasal pathways. It’s also important that you do not go to sleep right after consuming alcohol as this practice can guarantee that you snore.
- Stop Taking Sleeping Pills: Sleeping pills induce a state of deep sleep very soon than normal which involves rapid relaxation of the tissues in the throat and the upper palate causing extreme obstruction to the nasal pathways.
- Stop Smoking: Reducing or completely stopping to smoke can have multiple health benefits. Since the site of nicotine absorption for smokers is through the throat, there can be a health hazard that could originate from this site. The health of your throat and mouth is extremely essential for the treatment of snoring and smoking puts this in a grave state of danger.
- Get Proper Sleep: Sleep deprivation can cause the muscles in the throat to relax more thoroughly than in normal situation this can lead to extreme snoring. Having a proper sleep cycle and sticking to it can help control snoring without the use of any external medications or surgical procedures.
Exercises to Stop Snoring:
Besides the many home remedies and surgical procedures, there are a bunch of exercises that can help you reduce the issue of snoring. Following these exercises, in the long run, can help you a lot. In below section are some of the most simple exercises you can do to reduce snoring.
The vowel exercise: This exercise is very simple, all you need to do is to repeat the vowels out loud for about 3 to 5 times a day. The vowels in the English language are (a-e-i-o-u).
- Tongue Exercise: This exercise involves you keeping the tip of your tongue under the upper row of the teeth and then moving your tongue backwards in a sliding fashion for about three minutes every day.
- Lip Exercise: This format of exercise requires that you close your mouth and hold it for about thirty seconds while pursing your lips at the same time.
- Jaw Exercise: This exercise is done by opening your jaw to your left and holding it in that position for about thirty seconds. You need to repeat the same by opening your jaw to the right side too.
- Uvula Exercise: This exercise requires you to have a look at your uvula in the mirror and try to contract the muscles present at the back of your throat while keeping your mouth open. You will be able to see your uvula go up and down while trying this exercise.
People who suffer from snoring will require a lot of patience and care from their loved ones to rectify the issue. If you or your loved ones are suffering from the issue of snoring, I hope this article would have been of great help to you. Always remember that the stigma around snoring should not block you from accepting the problem and defeating it.
Now that you have understood the theory behind snoring and how it can be treated and controlled, in the below section we will try to answer some of the frequently asked questions with regard to the issue of snoring.
1. How can I stop snoring?
There are various medical procedures and home remedies that can easily make you free from the issue of snoring. But first, you need to consult a doctor to understand what issue is exactly obstructing your airway causing you to snore.
2. Is it healthy to snore?
No, it’s absolutely not healthy to snore. Snoring can be a symptom for deeper medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea which can be very harmful to your health.
3. How to sleep when your partner is snoring?
This is a rising concern among many people. In order to sleep while someone is snoring right next to you the only way you can adopt is to use noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs. Turning your partner so that he/she can sleep on the side can also help to reduce the snoring noise.