General Health

Snoring – What Causes The Problem?

I doubt that there is a person alive who has not been kept awake at some time by someone snoring. Perhaps you keep yourself awake by snoring. What actually is this irritating nuisance and how can we get control over it?

Over 90 million Americans are affected by snoring with 37 million on a regular basis. While men make up the majority of snorers, it affects both genders and all ages.

What is snoring?

When you sleep, your muscles relax – including those in the back of your throat. Your tongue falls back and your throat narrows. Upon inhalation, the walls of your vibrate and makes that makes that unbearable noise – The Snore. If the narrowing of the throat is severe enough, the walls collapse entirely creating a complete cessation in respiration which is called sleep apnea. This is a very serious condition requiring medical immediate medical intervention as it can lead to heart attack or stroke.

What causes snoring?

There are numerous causes of snoring. The most common are:

  • Alcohol consumption – since alcohol causes muscle weakness and drowsiness, if has a profound effect on your throat muscles, causing them to relax further than normal. This results in blockage of the airway, triggering that vibration upon inhalation, and to a lesser degree, upon exhalation. Since alcohol also promotes deep sleep, the snorer is less likely to waken to adjust their sleep position. If this is the only time you snore, the remedy is obvious!
  • Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue – this is, unfortunately, a normal occurrence of the aging process.
  • Obstructed nasal passages – anything that causes inflammation to the airway passages will promote obstruction. Illness, allergies, and infection are all contributors. Additionally, if the nose has been previously broken and healed crooked, or there are obstructive masses such as enlarged adenoids or polyps – these are major factors in snoring.
  • Bulky throat tissue – this is caused by excessive weight.
  • Elongated uvula (soft palate) – this narrows the opening to the throat and causes the vibrations that results in the snoring sound.

Are there any easy means to reduce snoring occurrences?

If snoring is not a daily event, there are some things you can do to limit the occurrences. Simple measures such as reducing your weight, establishing regular sleep patterns, limiting your consumption of alcohol (especially just prior to bed), do not eat for several hours before bedtime, sleep on your side, elevate your head further and avoid sleep enhancers such as antihistamines, sleep meds and tranquilizers are a few means that will reduce snoring frequency.

There are numerous sleep devices on the market that claim to inhibit snoring. Although they do not address the actual physical causes of snoring, many of them can be effective.

What are the medical treatments that are available?

Seeking medical attention for severe snoring and sleep apnea is a must. There are several surgical interventions that inhibit snoring.

  • Tonsillectomy – although this procedure is not performed as routine as in years past, it is a necessary procedure if the cause of snoring is enlarged tonsil or adenoids.
  • Somnoplasty – if enlarged or excessive tissue is the problem, this procedure shrinks the tissue through the use of radio frequency energy.
  • Genioglossus – this surgical treatment pulls the tongue forward preventing collapse in the lower throat.
  • CPAP – this machine is a non surgical intervention involving a nasal mask that forces air through the airway, preventing tissues from collapsing during sleep.

If snoring is having a negative impact on your sleep, it is having a negative impact on your health in general. You need to pay heed and correct the situation.

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