Snoring is a problem that is often considered normal, but can actually cause serious health problems. Snoring does not only disrupt the quality of life of a person but can also cause serious damage to physical health. In the snoring process, since respiratory system cannot perform properly, many health problems such as stroke, depression, heart health problems, headache, and reflux may develop over time. Snoring may result from many factors such as anatomy of the mouth and sinuses, alcohol consumption, allergies, colds, and weight. There are various treatment modalities depending on the type but may cause fatal risks if no preventive actions are taken.
Table of Contents
What is snoring?
The breathing path contraction caused by the relaxation of soft tissues in the mouth and throat of the airway during sleep increases the airflow rate. As the tension in the muscles of the upper respiratory tract decreases, the tongue slips back and causes vibration with other loose tissues, resulting in snoring. Approximately one-third of males and about one-fifth of females are reported to have a snoring habit.
Causes of snoring
- Mouth anatomy and being over weighted: A low, thick, soft palate, large tonsils or nasal passages can narrow the airway. Especially overweight people may have extra tissues that may narrow the airways as a result of excessive accumulation of fat in the back of the throat.
- Alcohol consumption: consuming too much alcohol reduces the natural defenses against airway obstruction by relaxing the throat muscles.
- Nose problems: Chronic nasal obstruction or a distorted section between the nostrils can cause snoring.
- Chronic allergy: Allergies can reduce the airflow in your nose, which forces breathing through your mouth and increases the likelihood of snoring.
- Sleeping position: Snoring is typically most frequent and loudest when sleeping on the back as gravity’s effect on the throat narrows the airway.
- Inheritance: A family history of snoring is a potential risk factor.
Types of snoring
- Simple snoring: Occasional obstructions are harmless and are very common in adults. These snoring, in which a few breaths occur, are called simple snoring.
- Chronic snoring: Snoring which occurs often every night. If the degree of snoring is high, the problem is no longer snoring, but “obstructive sleep apnea syndrome”
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS): OSAS is a serious disease related to body system that is associated with recurrent breathing pauses during sleep, causing oxygen insufficiency and sleep interruptions and carries a risk of sudden death.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
This is a sleep disorder that involves cessation or significant decrease in airflow in the presence of breathing effort. It is the most common type of sleep-disordered breathing and is characterized by recurrent episodes of upper airway collapse during sleep. These episodes are associated with recurrent oxyhemoglobin desaturations and arousals from sleep.
Symptoms of snoring
- Witnessed breathing pauses during sleep
- The partner cannot sleep because of loud snoring
- Restless sleep and frequent withdrawal of sleep
- Waking up with sudden shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Sore throat, dry mouth and headache in the morning
- Chest pain at night
- Daytime sleepiness and tiredness
- Concentration disorder
- In children, poor attention span, behavioral issues or poor performance in school
What kind of doctor do I see for snoring?
If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP or ENT doctor. If there is no problem in the nose and throat, the patient is usually referred to chest diseases with a diagnosis of chronic OSAS.
Diagnosis of snoring
- Endoscopic examination: Endoscopic examination of the mouth and throat determines whether snoring is associated with abnormalities in these areas.
- Nose examination: Examination of the inner surface of the nostril on examination to evaluate if there is deviated septum, nose curvature.
- Medical imaging method: To check abnormalities in breath; X-ray, computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are used.
- Sleep test: An in-depth study of your sleep pattern. One night is spent in the clinic or sleep center to measure your heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen level in your blood, and movement of the legs with sleep sensors connected to the head and body called a polysomnography.
Medical device support
Positive airway pressure
It is an air pressure device that is inserted into the nose or placed over the mouth with the nose while sleeping. Types include:
- CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure): The pressure of the breathing air is constant or slightly higher than the surrounding air pressure, which is sufficient to keep the upper respiratory tract open.
- BiPAP (Bilevel positive airway pressure): It exerts double level pressure as higher while inhaling and lower while exhaling.
Oral device (mouthpiece)
Oral device is an alternative for those with mild or moderate OSAS. Designed to expand your throat. In this option, you should see an experienced dentist and choose the mouthpiece according to your anatomy.
Surgery for snoring
- UPPP (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) surgery: It is done by general anesthesia. It is a procedure that a tissue removed from the back of your mouth and above your throat; epiglottis can be cut, some of the soft palate and tonsils can be removed.
- Laser assisted UPPP surgery: It is an operation performed by using local anesthesia for reduction of the tissue behind the throat via laser.
- Radiofrequency somnoplasty surgery: It is performed by local anesthesia. Soft palate volume is reduced with low intensity radio waves.
- Upper airway impulse surgery is performed on patients with moderate and severe OSAS who cannot tolerate CPAP or BiPAP. The impulse generator placed under the upper chest skin detects the respiratory system and stimulates the nerve that controls the movement of the tongue.
- Maxillofacial surgery: This is done to advance the bones in the upper and lower jaws. The congestion is reduced by widening the area behind tongue and soft palate.
- Tracheostomy: If you have serious OSAS threatening your life and other treatments are inconclusive, you may need this surgery. It involves creating an opening in the neck in order to place a tube into a person’s windpipe. The tube is inserted through a cut in the neck below the vocal cords. This allows air to enter the lungs.
- Pillar implant surgery: involves inserting three small medical polyester rods into the soft palate under local anesthesia. Thus, the palate will not vibrate during breathing by supporting from the bottom. In addition, the area where the breath passes would be extended by this way.
- Nose surgery: It is done to remove the polyps or correct the deviated septum between your nostrils.
- Tonsil and nasal meat surgery: It is done to remove the enlarged tonsils or the adenoid. Snoring is reduced by cleaning or expanding the airways.
Medication treatment for snoring
A drug to stop snoring has not yet been found. Drugs recommended in snoring have different mechanisms. Some of them are drugs that activate breathing, some of them relax the muscles where snoring is prominent and shorten sleep. Apart from that, some antidepressants have been used for snoring. There are also medications that are used locally, reducing sound of snoring by providing lubrication in the throat, but none of them are drugs that prevent snoring.
Herbal oils that are good for snoring
Although not scientifically proven, many people believe that vegetable oils can effectively reduce snoring. Here are herbal oils used for treatment of snoring:
- Thyme: Applying some thyme oil to the feet at nights may reduce snoring.
- Mint: Peppermint oil eases the cleaning sinuses and breathing. If your snoring gets worse, breathing peppermint oil may help.
- Eucalyptus: It helps to break down excess mucus in the sinuses obstructing the airway by flowing behind the throat.
- Cedar: Cedar tree oil allows you to relieve the anxiety and relax the muscles, allowing you to sleep comfortably.
- Lemon: Fresh smell of the lemon oil reduces anxiety and give a feeling of comfort.
- Clove: Clove oil made from dried buds is expectorant.
- Pine: Pine oil, which is a volatile oil obtained from pine needles, is both antimicrobial and antioxidant.
- Fennel: It has some anti-inflammatory properties. Fennel reduces inflammation in the nose and throat and improves airflow in nasal passages.
- Sage: Sage is effective against respiratory infections such as colds.
- Citronella: It is especially useful as a detox after excessive alcohol intake.
- Lavender: It is used to treat insomnia. Helps in releasing melatonin and relaxing. Lavender is especially useful for the partner of the snoring person.
- Marjoram: It is used to reduce mucus obstructing your breath and is expectorant.
- Valerian: The root has a strong sedative effect; A natural solution to sleep problems.
How to prevent snoring?
Practical solutions to prevent snoring
- Losing excess weight reduces the amount of tissue that can cause snoring in the throat. It is useful to do regular daily exercises and diet under supervision of a doctor.
- Sleeping on side can reduce or stop snoring by allowing the air to flow easily. However, lying on his back can cause the tongue to move towards the back of the throat, which in part prevents the flow of air through the throat.
- Rise up your head by elevating your cushion allows you to reduce snoring by keeping your airways open.
- Do not drink alcohol two hours before bedtime. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and causes snoring.
- Don’t take sedatives before bedtime, talk to your doctor for other solutions.
- Stop smoking because it is an unhealthy habit that can worsen your snoring.
- Have enaugh sleep, at least 7-8 hours every night.
Anti-snoring products and apparatus
- Snoring cushion: The snoring cushions allow the widening of the breathing path by changing the position during sleep.
- Nasal bands: Adhesive nasal strips are placed over the nose bridge to help expand the nasal passage. This can reduce or eliminate your snoring by making your breathing more effective. You can also try the nose dilator with a hardened adhesive strip applied to the nose along the nostril. This reduces air flow resistance, making breathing easier.
- Medical dental mouthpieces: Dental mouthpieces called oral devices make it easy to breathe while keeping your air ducts open, preventing snoring. Consult your dentist first to obtain these mouthpieces.
Health problems caused by snoring
- Stroke: The intensity of snoring creates the risk of constriction of the arteries in the neck due to fat deposits called plaques and increases the likelihood of stroke.
- Heart disease: OSAS is associated with cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, and is likely to cause heart attack.
- Arrhythmia: People with long-standing snoring or OSAS have an irregular heart rhythm and flutter risk. OSAS may affect the conductive system of the heart, or the growth of the left atrium over time may lead to arrhythmia.
- GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease): People who have sleep apnea also may have GERD the disordered way in which their throat closes while air moves in and out during sleep, causing pressure changes that can suck the contents of their stomach back up into the esophagus.
- Accident risks: Insomnia caused by snoring or OSAS may have fatal consequences, such as falling asleep while driving.
- Depression: OSAS can affect your mental health and can lead to problems starting from drowsiness and insomnia to depression.
- Headache: Sleep disorders cause headaches, which disturbs quality of life.
- Sexual reluctance: Many people are so adversely affected by snoring that they have difficulty in establishing close relationships with their partner.
- Risk of fetal complications during pregnancy: Snoring from weight gain in the last three months of pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of fetal complications.
Recommendations for snoring
- Remember that snoring can have serious health risks and consequences.
- If the continuity of snoring increases, see a doctor.
- Keep the sleep diary to prepare for the questions the doctor asks.
- Do not drink alcohol or use sedatives before going to bed.
- Try the nasal strips.
- Sleep by lying on the side instead of the back.
- If there is a nasal congestion, try over-the-counter medications to treat this problem.