Snoring is a harsh sound that can occur when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, causing these tissues to vibrate. Almost everyone has experienced snoring occasionally, but for some people it can be a chronic problem or a sign of a more serious health condition. Long term snoring leads to disrupted sleep patterns of those close to you, as well as poor sleep quality for yourself.
Causes Of Snoring
Snoring occurs when the flow of air through your mouth and nose are blocked, which can be caused by a variety of different factors. Blocked nasal airways can contribute to snoring, such as during a sinus infection or allergy season. Problems in your nose can also be a factor, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps. Poor muscle tone in your throat and tongue can also lead to snoring, since if they are too relaxed, they may collapse into your airway.
Bulky throat tissue and a long soft palate or uvula can cause snoring as well, since these issues narrow the opening from your nose to your throat. When you breathe, they will vibrate and bump against each other, which results in a blocked airway.
Relaxed throat muscle is a common cause of snoring, which can be due to drinking alcohol, taking muscle relaxers, or even sleep deprivation. In addition, snoring can be caused by your sleep position, as sleeping on your back can be a factor. An easy method to reduce snoring is to sleep on your side.
A sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can cause chronic snoring as well. If this is the case for you, consider seeing your doctor, as sleep apnea can lead to other health issues including interrupted sleep, cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure and diabetes, depression, and strokes.
Risk Factors For Snoring
Your gender may contribute to your risk of snoring, as men are more likely to snore or develop sleep apnea than women. A narrow airway, associated with issues in your mouth anatomy, increases your likelihood of snoring as well, as this creates difficulty for the airway to open. This also holds true for nasal problems such as the deviated septum.
Pregnancy, obesity, and a small jaw are all risk factors that relate to issues with snoring. Chronic congestion and a family history of sleep apnea are also common risk factors associated with snoring or developing OSA yourself. Chronic snoring can cause complications in your daily life, such as fatigue and irritability, and may be an indicator of OSA.
Symptoms Of Snoring
If you experience snoring infrequently, chances are low that it could indicate something more serious. However, if you experience chronic snoring along with other symptoms of sleep apnea, it may be time to get checked. These symptoms include breathing pauses during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, frequent headaches, and a sore throat in the morning.
You may also experience restless sleep, as snoring can affect your ability to stay asleep or enter a deep sleep. Other symptoms associated with snoring include gasping or choking at night, high blood pressure, chest pain when resting, and disrupting your partner’s sleep as well as your own.
Snoring, especially if caused by sleep apnea, can disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause poor sleep quality, which may lead to sleep deprivation that begins the cycle over again. OSA is often recognized by a period of loud snoring followed by periods of silence where breathing stops or almost stops. This might cause you to wake up, thereby disrupting your sleep pattern.
Diagnosing Chronic Snoring
If your partner tells you that you are snoring or you suspect you may have sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam to determine if anything is possibly blocking your airways, and they may run some other tests as well.
An imaging test, such as an MRI, X-ray, or CT scan can be used to find problems in your airways. A sleep study (also called polysomnography) may be conducted, in which a machine monitors you while sleep, measuring your heart rate, breathing, and brain activity. This can be conducted at the sleep center or they can instruct you on how to do it at home.
Treatment To Stop Snoring
Snoring can be treated by lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting cigarettes, or reducing alcohol consumption, especially before bed. You may also be given an oral appliance, which is a small plastic device to put in your mouth while sleeping. This will keep your airways open by moving your jaw or tongue.
If necessary, you may be recommended to undergo surgery. There are several procedures that can treat snoring issues, such as removing or shrinking tissues in your throat, or making your soft palate stiffer. If your snoring is caused by sleep apnea, your doctor may tell you to get a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP can reduce snoring by blowing air into your upper airway as you are sleeping.
How Gwinnett Sleep Can Help
Gwinnett Sleep offers services that can help diagnose other sleep disorders that may be causing chronic snoring. We provide consultations, conduct sleep studies, and offer a CPAP clinic. If you suspect that you may have chronic snoring, you should get tested for sleep apnea as well. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.