Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound, due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. In some cases the sound may be soft, but in other cases, it can be rather loud and quite unpleasant. The structures involved are usually the uvula and soft palate. The irregular airflow is caused by a blockage and is usually due to one of the following causes:
- Throat weakness, causing the throat to close during sleep
- Mispositioned jaw, often caused by tension in the muscles
- Fat gathering in and around the throat
- Obstruction in the nasal passageway
Snoring, if ignored, can lead to serious problems. Because snoring causes a decrease in oxygen supply to the body, the body comes under extreme stress and undergoes metabolic changes. High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and, in extreme cases, stroke can occur.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous consequence of ignoring a snoring problem. In this, patients don’t breathe for more than 10 seconds due to an obstructed airway. As a result, they have disturbed sleep at night and make up for it by sleeping in the day. This can be dangerous as people can suddenly fall asleep while driving.
It is important to diagnose this problem in the initial stages as it can be cured.
If a person snores then he/she should get themselves screened at a sleep medicine clinic.
Studies have shown that at least 25 percent men and 9 percent women above the age of 40 suffer from snoring problem.
Causes of Snoring
- Throat weakness
- Misaligned jaw
- Obesity (especially fat gathering in and around the throat)
- Obstruction in the nasal passage
- Tonsillitis in children
- Lifestyle changes
- Weight loss therapy
- Avoiding tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime
- Avoiding alcohol for at least four hours and heavy meals or snacks for three hours before sleeping
- Establishing regular sleeping patterns: sleeping and waking up at a fixed time every day
- Sleeping on the side rather than on the back
- Evaluation by a sleep therapy expert.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): In this, a patient has to wear a pressurized mask over the nose while sleeping. The mask is attached to a small pump that forces air through the airway to keep it open.