Snoring is the sound made by obstructed breathing during sleep. It is normal for most people to snore at some time or another but being overweight is a contributing factor. In itself, snoring is not harmful—although it can be intensely annoying to a partner. However, it could be an indication of another treatable health condition, such as an allergy, sinus infection or sleep apnea.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Snoring?
Snoring is caused by the tongue falling back and pressing against the back of the throat. This causes vibrations that are transmitted to the soft palate, which then vibrates, creating the snoring noise. There are a variety of factors that can cause snoring but if you are overweight, a middle-aged or older man or a postmenopausal woman you are more likely to snore. Lifestyle factors, such as alcohol use, tobacco use and certain medications may also cause or exacerbate a snoring problem.
Is Snoring Dangerous? Are There Any Complications of Snoring?
That depends. Occasional mild snoring throughout the night is not likely to have any long-term effects on your health. But excessive, loud snoring is likely to disturb your sleep. This can result in excessive daytime sleepiness and irritability as well as a sore throat or headache. However, in the long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to other physical and mental health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and heart problems.
Snoring is also one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea. This is when the airway becomes completely blocked and breathing stops for some seconds until the lack of oxygen forces you to wake up, typically with a loud gasp as your airway is opened up again. It may happen many times throughout the night, leaving you feeling tired the next day. Many people who have sleep apnea are unaware that they wake-up constantly during their sleep, or that they have a sleep problem.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder, but many people aren’t aware they have it. You should see your doctor if you have symptoms as the disorder is treatable. You can monitor your breathing quite easily these days if you have a smartphone. There are plenty of apps out there that will record you while you sleep to help you determine whether you snore and to what degree.
How Can I Stop Snoring?
Making some lifestyle change, such as losing weight, stopping smoking and not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will certainly help. They are a good place to start, as well as being beneficial to your overall health. However, all snoring is not the same and you will have to work out what type of snoring you have to determine the snoring aids that work for it. The different types of are nose-based, mouth-based, tongue-based and throat-based snoring.
This occurs when your nostrils are blocked and has multiple causes, such as a cold, allergies or a side-effect of medication you are taking. It may also be caused as a result of a physical obstruction, such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum.
Treatment for nose-based Snoring
Treatment for nose-based snoring may include nasal rinses, or dilator strips to open the nostrils. If you have a physical obstruction, such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum, surgery may be the answer.
Mouth, Tongue and Throat-based Snoring
Although these types of snoring may not have the same causes, they all affect the airflow in the throat. If you have a blocked nose, you may breathe through your mouth, which vibrates the soft tissues in the back of the throat, resulting in snoring.
Tongue-based snoring typically occurs when the tongue relaxes, blocking the airway. It can occur in people with excess fat in the neck, or people who have drunk alcohol or taken sleep medication.
Throat-based snoring occurs when the muscles and soft tissues in the throat are too relaxed. This is usually the loudest form of snoring and is associated with sleep apnea and tongue-based snoring.
Treatment for throat-based Snoring
Oral appliance therapy (mandibular advancement device) is one of the most effective treatments for this type of snoring. Made from acrylic, it is worn while you sleep and resembles an orthodontic retainer or sports mouthguard. The device is molded to fit over the top and bottom teeth and temporarily moves the lower jaw forward to reduce throat constriction and prevent snoring.
Available from your dentist (and expensive), you can obtain a custom-aid anti-snoring device for a fraction of the cost. Made from silicone that becomes malleable in hot water, biting down on the appliance (remembering to move your lower jaw forward) will create a custom-made device that will keep your jaw and tongue forward while you sleep, prevent your airway becoming blocked and stop your snoring.
Snoring is a problem that affects millions of people every night. Fortunately, there are many solutions out there to help you get a good night’s sleep. If you’re looking for more information on snoring, check out the rest of our site where you can find many articles and resources on this common problem.