Everyone snores once and a while, but excessive snoring can affect your quantity and quality of sleep as well as the quantity and quality of sleep of your sleep partner resulting in both of you experiencing sleep deprivation.
The cause of snoring is the narrowing of the airway. This narrowing can be the results of either an abnormality in the soft tissue in the throat or a poor sleep posture. Typically men have a narrower air passage than women; therefore, men are more likely to snore than women. Snoring can also be caused by a blocked nasal passage or nasal stuffiness due to an allergy, asthma, sinus infection, a common cold, or a deformity of the nose such as a deviated septum or nasal polyp. Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue, bulky throat tissue, and a long soft palate and/or uvula can also be the cause of snoring. Mild or occasional snoring is not a sign of a sleep disorder.
There are many good remedies for curing nasal noise such as sleeping on your side instead of your back will reduce the probability; elevate the head of the bed; limit consumption of alcohol; and/or lose weight. But in some cases even after all these remedies have been tried, snoring still exists.
There are also some other remedies on the market advertised as a cure for snoring such as anti-snore mouthpieces, nose strips, throat spray, palate implants, throat surgery, nasal surgery, hypnosis, aromatherapy, and exercises guaranteed to stop snoring.
Not only is this issue annoying to a sleep partner, snoring can also be a sign of a dangerous yet very common sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Unless an individual brings it to the attention of their doctor, this sleep disorder will be undiagnosed and many times it goes completely untreated.
When an individual has sleep apnea, they have one or more pauses in their breathing while they sleep. The breathing can stop for seconds or minutes depending on the severity of their sleep apnea. When normal breathing starts again it is often accompanied by a loud snort or a choking sound. The individual with sleep apnea also experiences loud noises, sudden awakenings, and sleepiness during the day. This is an ongoing problem and the individual with sleep apnea does not get good quality sleep. It is also potentially life threatening disorder due to abnormal breathing patterns. The abnormal breathing patterns results in the lowering of blood oxygen levels which causes the blood pressure to rise. Untreated sleep apnea can result in high blood pressure, enlargement of the heart, which can result in a higher risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
To determine if you’re nasal noise is caused by sleep apnea a sleep study can be conducted by an unattended sleep study at home or a full sleep study (a polysomnography) conducted at a sleep clinic. Often times a home sleep study is conducted first, and if there is a problem a full sleep study will be conducted.
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