Snoring is a breathing noise that occurs while someone is sleeping. The actual sound is produced when air makes the soft tissue in the throat vibrate because of an obstruction in the air passage. The sound of snoring occurs when the airway collapses and the muscles fail to maintain their normal function. It reduces the airflow to the lungs and then to the brain. Snoring can be a warning sign that normal breathing is not taking place during sleep.
Living with a snorer
Snoring doesn’t just interfere with the snorer’s sleep but disrupts the sleep of those close to them and can strain relationships. A snoring problem can lead to the other bed partner being tired and frustrated as they can be deprived to up to one hour of sleep a night.
Statistics show that about 50 per cent of people snore at some point in their lives more so men, though women snore too. Increase in weight and age makes about 40% adult men, and 24% of adult women habitual snorers.
Link between Snoring and Sleep Apnoea
Snoring can be a symptom of a more serious disorder called obstructive sleep apnoea, although not everyone who snores has it. If a person suffers from this, they may temporarily stop breathing many times while they are sleeping. They may have no awareness of these episodes. If you are frequently tired during the day, and wake from sleep unrefreshed, despite getting a sufficient amount of sleep, or if your snoring is accompanied with a choking or gasping sound, you may have sleep apnoea.
Diagnosis is made by a sleep physician following a home or hospital sleep study. There are several approaches to the management of this problem including CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), Oral Appliance Therapy and surgery.
Factors that contribute to snoring
- Sleeping on your back, alcohol or other depressants may make you more likely to snore
- Extra tissue in the throat can vibrate as you breathe in air in your sleep, causing you to snore
- Being overweight, obese or pregnant often have extra bulky throat tissue and therefore snore
- Genetic factors that can cause snoring include extra throat tissue as well as enlarged tonsils, large adenoids, long soft palate or long uvula
- Snoring could occur due to congestion from a cold or flu, allergies or deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum
- Alcohol, smoking, ageing and certain drugs and medications, including muscle relaxants are factors that contribute to snoring
- The loud, harsh or hoarse sounds that you produce while you are asleep
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Choking or gasping while you sleep
- Pauses in breathing
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Moodiness, irritability or depression
- Frequent need to urinate during the night
If you have any of the above symptoms you may have sleep apnoea.
Treatment for Snoring
The treatment will depend on whether or not you are diagnosed with sleep apnoea. If you do not have sleep apnoea, then you may have to make some behavioural changes
- Weight loss – Weight gain can make snoring worse, and may even lead to sleep apnoea. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight should be a priority. For some people it can help reduce or eliminate snoring.
- Positional therapy – Some people sleep on their backs. Snoring can sometimes be controlled by changing your sleep position. There are a variety of products that you can wear when you go to sleep that prevent you from sleeping on your back.
- Avoiding alcohol, muscle relaxants and certain medications – Your throat muscles relax from use of alcohol or other depressants. If you avoid use of these substances, you may be able to reduce or cure your snoring. Medications can contribute to snoring. Speak to your doctor about alternative medication if it is causing you to snore.
Treatment of Snoring using Oral Appliances
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognises oral appliances as a primary treatment option for snoring. These are small plastic devices that fit in your mouth over your teeth while you sleep, to hold the airway open and stop you from snoring. The airway is thus prevented from collapsing by holding the tongue in position or by sliding your jaw forward so that you can breathe when you are asleep. A dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can fit you with a dental sleep appliance.
The bulky tissue in your throat can be surgically removed. Other more complicated procedures can adjust your bone structure.
If your snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea, your sleep physician may recommend you initially trial CPAP, especially if your condition is severe. In other cases, an oral appliance may be a suitable front-line treatment option.
If you or someone you know snores and would like to have a local dentist in Point Cook evaluate your snoring, book an appointment with Dr Nomita Gonsalvez at the dental gallery or make an enquiry and we can send you more information.