During sleeping, some people produce sound from the throat. This is called snoring and is commonly found in many people. This article discusses snoring and whether it is a disease. Knowing about the causes and complications of snoring can help. Here we also discuss how snoring can be managed.
Though snoring is common in both the genders, it is mostly found in males. It is a nuisance to the bed partner. Snoring also takes away the sleep of the co-sleepers and also of the person snoring. Snoring can also be the main symptom of sleep apnea. Even after a good sleep, the person snoring does not feel refreshed on waking up. It can also affect concentration and performance during daytime activities.
While many people snore sometime or the other during their lifetime, it becomes a serious problem when snoring becomes a habit.
Is Snoring a Disease?
No, snoring is not a disease. It happens when the tongue blocks the passage of airway thus producing sounds. However, snoring can be an indication of an underlying problem, particularly those related to nasal passage and breathing. According to some studies, snoring is a common sleep disorder, which can lead to a serious health problem like obstructive sleep apnea.1
What are the Causes of Snoring?
While sleeping, the throat muscles get relaxed, tongue almost blocks the space in the throat making it narrow. With this situation, breathing causes a vibration of throat muscles which produces sound. This sound is common when the person inhales the air but can occur during exhalation also. Sometimes, the throat passage gets completely blocked leading to apnea. This is when snoring can be serious.
The Following Are The Possible Causes For Snoring:
- In overweight and obese individuals the presence of large tissue in and around the throat is one of the common causes of snoring.
- Infection in the sinus (sinusitis) or allergy is also a common cause of snoring in some.
- Large or swollen adenoids and tonsils too are the common causes of snoring, particularly in children.
- Structural abnormalities in the nose like nasal polyps or deviated septum also obstruct the air passage, which can result in snoring.
- In some people, abnormalities in uvula also narrow the space at the back of the buccal cavity. They may have a longer uvula than normal length or else, the soft palate may be lengthy. During inspiration and expiration, these structures bump with one another to produce the snoring sound.
- Snoring can also be seen in people who drink too much, in those who take sleep medicines, in aged people. It can be due to a loss of normal muscle tone or excessive relaxation.
Symptoms of Snoring
The grunting like or rattling like the sound produced in the throat during sleeping is noisy and disturbing to themselves and also to people who sleep with them. Signs and symptoms are listed below:
- Drowsiness in the day time
- Poor level in concentrating, lack of attention
- Not able to make decisions
- Obstructed breathing
- Memory loss to some extent or unable to recall the things at the right time
What are the Complications of Snoring?
Snoring, particularly it is habitual, can result in complications. Some of the effects and risks related to snoring are as follows:
- Snoring interrupts breathing.
- The people do not have restorative sleep. This deeper sleep actually relaxes the individuals. The snoring people would be having lighter sleep so that they do not feel relaxed even after sleeping for a longer duration.
- As the people do not get adequate quality sleep at night, due to disturbance of snoring, they would feel drowsiness throughout the day.
- The people who snore may suffer from sleep apnea or sleeping disorders.
- Sleep apnea in snoring people can lead to elevated blood pressure and they also have a high risk of cardiac arrest and/or stroke. It sometimes enlarges the heart.
- Dysfunction during day time and sleep apnea may result in vascular diseases.
How Can Snoring Be Managed?
Many times individuals do not know that they snore. The people around them explain the condition. It is necessary to seek medical advice for timely treatment and to avoid further complications. The doctors usually collect all the information about the daily routine and conduct investigations to rule out sleep-related problems. They may refer to a sleep specialist for counseling or advice for alternative methods to manage the condition.
Snoring can be managed using some of the following:
- People who snore are advised to use some oral appliances or nasal dilators.
- The sleeping positions are changed so that the extent of snoring would be reduced. In many people, turning to the sides reduces snoring than sleeping on the back.
- There are some more appliances which avoid collapsing of muscles in the posterior region of the buccal cavity. They are called continuous positive airway pressure appliances which absorb the room air and blow into the throat thus the collapsing of the tissues is prevented.
- Ear, nose or throat infections are cured with the help of suitable medicines.
Surgery may be considered in some individuals who have anatomical abnormalities. It is done by following different ways like microwaves and/or lasers.
Sleep specialists or psychiatrists or normal physicians counsel the patients and advice the patients and support to manage the sleeping disorders. Apart from the treatment, snoring can be managed by controlling the trigger factors. Some of the effective measures to manage snoring include,
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding alcohol, drugs that induce sleep or muscle relaxation, particularly before bedtime.
- Sleeping on the sides.
- Counseling can help regularize the definite patterns of sleeping.
- Avoiding snacks just before sleeping and heavy meals.
- Protecting from allergies from dust and mites.
- Maintaining hydration by drinking a lot of water and juices. It is necessary to prevent dehydration, which can bring stickiness in the mouth palate.
- Taking a hot shower as it would help in clearing the blocked nasal cavities.
Though snoring is not a disease, it can lead to complication if it persists for long and if it becomes a routine. Snoring can be managed with medication and lifestyle measures. Some simple practices can help in reducing snoring. Avoiding alcohol, a hot shower, a good sleep, sleeping sideways are some of the preventive measures one can take to stop or decrease the risk of snoring.