Learn how to stop snoring and its treatment options

“Laugh and the world laughs with you; you snore and sleep alone.” This quote from Anthony Burgess reflects the agony of having a partner who snores in their sleep! So if you are interested in knowing how to stop snoring, read on.

What is snoring?

Snoring is basically noisy breathing when you sleep, ranging from a soft hiss to a very loud and heavy rattling sound.

“It is a hoarse, scratchy sound that occurs when the relaxed tissues of the throat vibrate in response to the air flowing through them with each breath, while you sleep.
Snoring does not always mean an underlying medical condition,” according to Dr. Shruti Manjunath (MBBS, MS ENT), Consultant ENT Specialist and Allergist, Apollo Clinic, Indiranagar, Bengaluru.

Men tend to snore more than women and this can affect all age groups. Snoring can also occur from time to time after a tiring day with allergies, a common cold, or occasional alcohol consumption.

However, snoring every day is not a good thing and can be a sign of a much larger problem that needs to be addressed. The expert says that it is especially problematic when it occurs together with obstructive sleep apnea.

Health risks of snoring
Try to find out why you snore. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Reasons why snoring happens

The narrowing of the airways at different levels (from the nose to the throat) is one of the main underlying defects in a person who snores chronically. This can happen due to various reasons such as

* Hypertrophy of the nasal turbinates
* Deviated nasal septum
* elongated uvula
* Low and thick soft palate
* Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
* Improperly placed jaw bone
* Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue
* Big tongue
* Increased fat deposition in the neck tissues in a
overweight/obese people.

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Additionally, chronic alcohol use, drug abuse, and lack of sleep can cause the throat muscles to relax excessively and collapse during sleep, leading to snoring.

You should see a doctor if your snoring is affecting your or your partner’s sleep, there is excessive daytime sleepiness, head heaviness or headaches, difficulty concentrating especially in children, or disturbed sleep.

“If your loved ones feel that you tend to have pauses in snoring while you sleep, or a feeling of choking or gasping at times, a visit to the doctor should not be delayed,” adds Dr. Manjunath.

Snoring and sleep apnea
Awareness of sleep apnea should not be ignored. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

how to stop snoring

A detailed history and clinical examination of the respiratory tract, which may include an endoscopic evaluation of the nose and throat, imaging tests such as a CT scan (for nasal problems), along with a sleep study and other investigations that the doctor considers appropriate are the measures taken to evaluate the cause of the snoring and rule out obstructive sleep apnea.

A sleep study (performed at home/laboratory/hospital), also called polysomnography, is where a machine monitors your sleep and measures parameters such as heart rate, number of apnea episodes, breathing, etc.

Treatment generally revolves around the underlying cause. Ensure lifestyle modifications such as;

* Weightloss
* regular exercise
* Avoid alcohol before bed
* side sleeping
* Raise the head of your bed

These measures are usually sufficient once all other causes of risk have been ruled out.

Surgical correction of narrowed airways, using oral and nasal appliances (such as nasal strips) that keep the airways open, and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure machine) are some of the other options available.

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What are the complications of snoring?

Chronic snoring can also lead to other problems such as sleep apnea, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, heart conditions, strokes, behavior problems in children, and even traffic accidents due to lack of deep sleep.

In short, snoring may not just be an annoyance to deal with, but may be a sign of something bigger underneath and proper steps should be taken to assess and resolve.