Snoring is a common sleep issue caused by a partial blockage of airflow. It affects most people at one time or another and is often benign; however, sometimes snoring can be a chronic problem that requires medical intervention. If snoring is disruptive to your sleep quality or that of your partner, it’s time to address the issue. The first step is to receive an evaluation and diagnosis; from there, a sleep specialist can provide a treatment plan to help you find relief. Here are some frequently asked questions about snoring and snoring treatment:
What causes the noise associated with snoring?
Snoring isn’t just a disturbance for the sufferer, but for their partner as well. The noise associated with snoring is caused by a partial blockage of airflow in the nose or throat. It can range in intensity from soft and intermittent to loud and continuous. When air is blocked, it causes the soft tissues in the nose and/or throat to vibrate, which in turn leads to the sound.
What are some risk factors for snoring?
There are a variety of risk factors and causes of snoring. Some people snore only when they have a cold or during allergy season. For others, snoring is a chronic, year-round problem. Here are some common reasons why you may snore:
- Bulky tissue in the throat — Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids can cause snoring. However, the most common cause of bulky tissue around the throat is being overweight or obese. If you’re carrying extra pounds, you may have fat deposits around your airway that can cause a partial or complete blockage during sleep and cause snoring.
- Nasal airway obstructions — Sometimes snoring is caused by a blockage in the nasal passages. There are several reasons why this may occur. For example, allergies can cause swelling and inflammation in the tissues of the nose, which can lead to snoring. Nasal polyps are another cause of snoring caused by nasal passage obstruction.
- Poor throat and tongue muscle tone — Snoring can occur when the muscles of the tongue and throat become overly relaxed, causing the tissues to block the airway. This can occur after alcohol consumption or sleeping pill usage; however, the natural aging process is also a culprit.
- Long uvula or soft palate — Some people are genetically predisposed to snoring because they have a uvula and/or soft palate that’s considered longer than normal.
Even though you may not be able to control some of these risk factors, controlling the ones that you can goes a long way towards relief.
Are there any negative consequences of snoring?
Snoring can be harmful in a variety of ways that go beyond sleep disruption, which itself can cause irritability, daytime sleepiness, and overall fatigue. Snoring can be indicative of sleep apnea, which puts you at risk for high blood pressure, heart conditions, and diabetes. People who snore as a result of sleep apnea may be at a greater risk for car accidents and/or accidents at work due to fatigue and lack of concentration.
Is snoring different from sleep apnea?
Although snoring and sleep apnea share some characteristics, they are two different problems. Snoring is caused by vibrations of the tissue, while sleep apnea results from a total airway blockage that causes breathing pauses and frequent waking. Most people with sleep apnea also snore, although it is possible to have sleep apnea without snoring. It’s best to get tested to confirm that sleep apnea is the proper diagnosis.
How is snoring treated?
Sometimes, snoring will resolve on its own without treatment, especially if the cause is something like seasonal allergies or a temporary illness. In cases of confirmed sleep apnea, sleep specialists will likely recommend wearing a CPAP mask to open up the obstructed airways. Surgical procedures are a possible treatment for severe snoring issues, although more conservative options will be explored first. Most of the time, snoring can be eliminated or at least significantly reduced, so that the sufferer can enjoy better quality sleep.
Find out more information about sleep apnea and what you can do to treat it.
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