What Causes Snoring & Ways to Stop it?
Snoring, in simple terms is noisy breathing. It is a harsh, snorting sound produced during sleep, which is caused due to some obstruction in the respiratory airways. Almost everyone must have experienced snoring some time or the other. But for some, it can be more frequent, say every time they sleep.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring results when, during sleep, the air is unable to move freely through your nose and mouth. This can result when the airways get narrowed due to various reasons. Snoring sounds arise from the attempt of the air to pass through narrow airways, which is different from normal smooth breathing that does not produce any sound.
Some of the Common Causes of Snoring Include
- Decreased muscle tone of the throat or throat passage becoming narrower as the age advances can cause snoring.
- Structural aspects like a natural narrow air passage as in case of men in comparison to women or with a family history of snoring.
- Medical conditions like enlarged tonsils or adenoids, cleft palate, deviated nasal septum or nasal congestion can lead to air passage narrowing and cause snoring.
- Consumption of alcohol, certain substances or medications that cause relaxation of muscles, which can cause narrowing of airways.
- Posture during sleep also affects, as sleeping on the back causes more relaxation of tissues around the throat; narrowing the airways and causing one to snore.
- Obesity or excessive fat around the neck and chest can lead to narrowing of air passage when sleeping and also cause obstructed breathing and snoring.
Ways to Stop Snoring
While snoring can be irritating, it can also affect the quality of sleep for you as well as those around you. Snoring and resultant lack of sound sleep can eventually cause fatigue, poor concentration, irritability during the day and other health problems like increased blood pressure, gasping spells during sleep or chest pain at night. Apart from being a nuisance to your partner, it can be a matter of concern, as snoring can also be a result of some underlying health issues. So identify your snoring concerns and get the treatment at the earliest.
The first step towards stopping to snore is to determine the type of snoring. As the causes are very clear, it is possible to identify the exact one, based on the type of your snoring. The next step is to move towards treating the cause and making all possible efforts to ease the discomfort related to snoring.
It is common that you may not be aware of your snoring and related concerns, so seek help from your family members. Observe for any changes in your weight, diet, sleep patterns or attention level. Some symptoms that may need attention are waking up without feeling refreshed, daytime sleepiness and morning headaches.
There are chances of sleep apnea if you experience a feeling of obstruction in breathing at night or have some pauses in breathing while sleeping. Make note of these findings and get a medical opinion.
Your physician would like to know a detailed history of your snoring and sleep patterns. After a through medical examination any structural cause can be identified. If required, consultation with sleep specialist and sleep studies may be ordered.
Treatment Options to Stop Snoring
Considering lifestyle modifications based on the cause is the initial treatment to stop snoring. You may be advised to manage your diet, avoid alcohol, reduce weight and follow sleep training or to alter your sleeping positions in order help you stop snoring. In case these do not work well, some of the advanced treatment modalities may be considered.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – this is used for snoring and sleep apnea. A pressurized mask, attached to a small pump, is worn while sleeping. It forces air into the air passage, thus keeping it open and prevents snoring.
- Devices – Mechanical devices to be placed in the oral cavity, which adjusts the position of the tongue and soft palate to ensure a free air passage and stop snoring. This requires regular monitoring and can cause some jaw pain or discomfort.
- Nasal dilators for specific nasal conditions are also used which can be useful in stopping snoring.
- Surgery- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), performed under general anesthesia, to trim excess throat tissue and tone them up to create an open air passage. Some risks like pain, bleeding, infection and nasal congestion are known. Laser assisted surgery are also performed.
Some Newer Techniques to Treat Snoring, Still Being Researched Include
- Pillar Procedure. Insertion of palatal implants in soft palate to stiffen the tissue.
- Somnoplasty or Radiofrequency Tissue Ablation. Radiofrequency signals are used to minimize tissues in soft palate, under local anesthesia.
Home Remedies to Stop Snoring
Maintain a Healthy Routine and Try Some Lifestyle Modifications Like:
- Weight Management – Losing weight can help to reduce the fat around the throat and prevents narrowing of the air passage which causes snoring.
- Sleep Routine – Maintain a healthy sleep routine. Keep the room temperature well adjusted and air humidified, as dry air cause irritation of nasal and throat passages. One of the ways to stop snoring is to clear nasal passages and take steam inhalation before sleeping. Adjust sleeping postures and sleep on sides; avoid sleeping on back. Consider raising the head of your bed while sleeping.
- Diet – Eat a balanced healthy diet. Avoid alcohol especially before sleeping as it can cause more relaxation of throat muscles. Avoid smoking as it irritates the nasal and throat passage, causing narrowing. Avoid heavy meals and stimulants before bedtime.
Exercises to Stop Snoring
Not only does it help to maintain an ideal weight, regular exercise can also tone up your muscles and prevent sagging of throat tissues that cause narrowing of air passage which can cause snoring. Breathing exercises can help to keep the nasal passage clear and prevent snoring.
- Slowly breathe in deeply with both nostrils, hold for a second and then exhale slowly.
- Breathe in slowly with first nostril; breathe out through the second nostril. Then breathe in through the second nostril and breathe out through the first nostril.
- Face and mouth exercises to strengthen the tissues of soft palate and back of throat like moving tongue on the palate and rolling it backwards, opening-closing and sideways movement of the jaw, making vowel sounds aloud.
- Regular singing or playing musical instruments, in which you blow air through your mouth are also good exercises, which can make the mouth and throat tissues strong and tone them up and help you in your efforts to stop snoring.
Snoring Aids that Work to Stop Snoring
As snoring is a common complaint, there are host of products available for use with the aim to reduce or stop snoring or to help you cope with the discomfort of snoring. These can be used depending on your cause of snoring.
- Sprays - Nasal and mouth sprays to reduce nasal congestion, sinus infections, bad breath and provide relief from snoring.
- Nasal Strips – Placed externally on the nose; aim at opening the air passages, helping you to breathe through nose with your mouth closed. It can help to reduce and stop snoring.
- Nasal Dilators – Devices are inserted into nostrils, which clears the nasal passage and ensures free air passage to stop snoring. These come in different forms, sizes and shapes.
- Chin-up Strips – Placed around the lips and over the chin, aimed at preventing mouth opening while sleeping, thus helps stop snoring.
- Mouth Breathing Devices – Oral devices, like snore guard aimed at promoting nasal breathing to reduce snoring.
- Anti-snoring Chin Support – A device that supports chin and has to be worn at night to prevent mouth opening and snoring.
- CPAP Machines and Masks – Used for snoring and sleep apnea as advised.