Treatments for Snoring
Snoring is one of those health issues that can affect the people around us more than the snorer him or herself. Just ask any spouse who has had to move off to the sofa to escape the incessant sound of sawing wood. Often until a bed-partner complains the snorer may not even be aware of the problem. However, snoring may be at its least an annoyance for sleep-mates, at its worse it can cause lack of sleep, or be indicative of more serious health problems, and should not be ignored.
Technically, snoring is defined as unusually noisy breathing caused by the tightening or restriction of air passages. This constriction usually occurs because the muscles surrounding the palate and tongue relax when we sleep. Snoring can usually be limited or eliminated with simple lifestyle changes. Depending on the cause of the problem, sometimes surgery may be recommended to treat snoring.
Snoring seems to be more common in men than women, probably do to the difference in the physical nature of the musculature around the nasal airways between men and women, but both genders suffer from snoring. Overweight people tend to snore more. There are physical conditions such as a deviated septum that can lead to snoring
Treatments for SnoringTreatments for snoring really depend on if the snoring can be characterized as light or heavy snoring. Light snoring, though embarrassing and annoying seldom presents serious health risks (other then to your relationship!) and can usually be self-treated. Self- treatments for light to moderate snoring include:
- Lose weight, get fit and adopt an athletic lifestyle that tones muscles
- Do not use sedatives, sleeping pills, or products containing antihistamines before bed
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages for at least 2 hours before bedtime,
- Avoid snacks and especially heavy meals for at least three to four hours before sleep
- Establish a regular sleep pattern
- Try sleeping on your side rather than your back.
- Tilt your bed upwards four inches
There are over 300 patented devices and over-the-counter treatments for the correction of mild snoring from breathing strips and other methods to open air passageways, to devices that produce an unpleasant stimuli for the snorer to condition them to stop snoring. Any of them may work to eliminate minor snoring.
A specialist should diagnose major or heavy snoring. Heavy snoring could be described as snoring that does not abate no matter how the person changes position, or uses the above self-treatments to no avail. An eye, ear, nose and throat specialist will perform a complete examination of the nose and associated airways. The doctor may recommend a sleep study conducted in a sleep lab to determine how severe the snoring is and how it may best be treated. The most common non-invasive method to treat heavy snoring is the prescription of a mask worn about the face and in the nose that delivers air directly into the throat. The technique is called continuous positive airway pressure, and the device is refereed to as a CPAP.
If the CPAP fails to correct the problem there are several surgical options available, depending on the causative condition. These include:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – This procedure tightens tissues in the throat and related structures, and opens air passages.
- Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) – These procedures use a laser or other types of radiation to eliminate the blockage in the airway, or to shrink excessive tissue of the Uvula or throat.
- Genioglossus and hyod advancement - a procedure designed to pull the tongue muscles forward, releasing restriction on the obstructed airway
Health Problems Related to SnoringSnoring can be indicative of other health problems, and can later in life indicate stroke or congestive heart failure, or other obstructive pulmonary disease. However, the most common serious health concern of heavy snoring is obstructive sleep apnoea. This is a condition when noisy snoring is broken by recurring episodes of completely obstructed breathing. In it most severe form episodes can last for as long as ten seconds or more, and occur 7-10 times every hour.
Apnoea patients have been known to experience as many as 300 such events per night resulting in severe disruption of sleep. These episodes also reduce blood oxygen levels and make the heart work harder, and can be serious for the person with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
Lack of rest in the person with sleep apnoea results in chronic fatigue during the day. This can affect job performance and may even be considered a public health matter, as the patient may become a dangerous driver or hazardous equipment operator.
Snoring has been the butt of jokes for years. But snoring means difficulty in breathing, and that is no laughing matter.