What is Snoring?
Snoring is the sound from the vibration of respiratory structures caused by obstructed air movement when breathing while asleep. The snoring sound can be anything from soft to loud and unpleasant. Almost everybody snores every now and then, but for some people snoring can be a chronic problem. Snoring is more common in men, even though many women snore, too. It appears to run in families and becomes more common as we get older. Snoring can also be a big nuisance to the partner of the affected person or anyone nearby. In many cases, affected people do not realise that they snore.
Snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. However, not everybody who snores has the sleep disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes someone to temporary stop breathing while asleep. Regular day time tiredness despite having had sufficient sleep time or choking and gasping sounds amid snoring could be further symptoms for the sleeping disorder. Sleep apnea is detected and diagnosed using an in-lab sleep study or home sleep testing. Clinical sturdies show that people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are at much greater risk to develop coronary diseases, arterial hypertension, or to suffer from a stroke.
The Effects of Snoring
Snoring is known to cause sleep deprivation to both the affected person and those around them, as well as irritability, lack of focus, daytime fatigue and even decreased libido. Several research studies suggest that loud snoring increases the risk of a heart attack by about 34% and the risk of a stroke by about 67%.
Among people with medical issues that affect their sleep, snoring is with 21% the second biggest sleep disturbance, only topped by insomnia with 26%.
The Causes of Snoring
Snoring is caused by the relaxation of the uvula and soft palate, which can relax enough to potentially partially block the airway when breathing. The result is irregular airflow and vibrations. The following are attributable reasons for snoring: throat weakness (causing the throat to close while asleep), mispositioned jaw (caused by tension in the muscles), obesity (fat in or around the throat), obstruction of the nasal airway, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, the consumption of alcohol or drugs (relaxation of throat muscles), sleeping on the back (tongue may drop to the back of the mouth).
Almost all treatments for snoring focus primarily on lessening the breathing discomfort by clearing the airway blockage, but so far there is no certain treatment to completely stop snoring. While medications are usually not overly helpful to treat snoring, they may however help manage some of the underlying causes, such as nasal congestion and allergic reactions. Instead of medications the key is often lifestyle changes as a treatment to stop snoring, such as losing weight, stop smoking and avoid alcohol and sedative medications before bedtime. Furthermore, affected people are advised to sleep on their side, as opposed to on the back. There are a number of other treatment options available, such as nasal sprays, nasal strips, nose clips, lubricating sprays, oral appliances and anti-snore clothing and pillows.
There is also an option to have surgery as a method of correcting snoring, attempting to widen the airway by removing tissue in the back of the throat. Such surgical procedures are quite invasive and carry risks of adverse side effects. The most dangerous risk is that enough scar tissue could form within the throat as a result of the incisions, which could make the airway more narrow than it was before the surgery.
Statistics on Snoring
Statistics on snoring suggest that at least 30% of adults snore and an increased susceptibility to snoring with progressing age. This seems by and large in line with a research project about snoring frequency, which was conducted in the U.S. The outcome of that project has shown that 30% of people snore from a few nights a week to almost every night, 15% snore infrequently or rarely, 20% never snore, and the remaining 35% either don't know or refused to comment.