I’m sure just about everyone is somewhat familiar with snoring. You probably know at least one person who snores. It could be your bed partner, your parents, and grandparents, even Uncle or Aunt who may snore at various sound levels. Some laugh and make jokes about it, but it can be a symptom of a serious disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. And if it is obstructive sleep apnea, then it is no laughing matter, and that individual needs to get evaluated by a sleep specialist.
Snoring affects nearly 50 per cent of the population from time to time and an estimated 25-30 per cent of people are habitual snorers.
30 percent Male and 20 percent female snore
Loud Snoring often is a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
What is snoring?
Snoring is noisy breathing through the mouth and nose during sleep.
Snoring is defined as a coarse sound made by vibrations of the soft palate and other tissue in the mouth, nose & throat (upper airway). It is caused by turbulence inside the airway during inspiration. The turbulence is caused by a partial blockage that may be located anywhere from the tip of the nose to the vocal cords. The restriction may occur only during sleep, or it may persist all the time and be worse when we are asleep. This is because our muscle tone is reduced during sleep and there may be insufficient muscle tone to prevent the airway tissue vibrating. During waking hours muscle tone keeps the airway in good shape; that’s why we don’t snore when awake.
Snoring is something that cannot be stopped at will, It can however, be successfully controlled.
Where is the sound being generated?
Nose -Nasal allergy , nasal polyp, deviated nasal septum can block the breathing passage in the nose and result in snoring and sleep apnea.
Palate – a long soft palate, long and thick uvula can vibrate and block the mouth and oral cavity, resulting in smaller airway and snoring / sleep apnea
Tonsils / Adenoids – big tonsils and adenoids can also block the airway and lead to snoring / sleep apnea
Tongue – a large tongue will block the airway and lead to snoring / sleep apnea. As we sleep on our backs, the tongue would fall backwards and obstruct the airway.
Is snoring an illness?
Snoring itself is not an illness, but it can lead to illness like High BP, Heart attacks and stroke. It can be a potential problem, especially if it disturbs other people’s sleep. The snorer may be the target of irritation or anger may even strain household or marriage relationships.
Snoring if associated with symptoms of tiredness, poor concentration, daytime sleepiness, choking sensation at night, may be a sign of a potential serious medical problem – Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).
Is snoring dangerous?
Snoring is dangerous if it is associated with daytime tiredness, day time sleepines, morning headaches, nighttime choking / gasping or difficulty in breathing. Snoring and Sleep Apnea can lead to heart attacks heart failure, high blood pressure, strokes and sudden death while sleeping.
Factors Make Snoring Worse
* Overeating , obesity and or Lack of Exercise.
- Alcohol ,Sleeping Pills, antidepressants and sedatives
- Smoking habits
- Sleeping Position -worse when you sleep on your back
- Nasal Allergy and Nasal congestion
- Nasal Polyps, Enlarged Tubinates, Septal deviations
- Fat deposits around the neck – double chin
- Large soft palate or uvula
- Obstruction at the back of the tongue caused by a ‘weak chin’
Who is at risk?
- The older you get, the weaker your throat muscles become. Weak throat muscles cause the surrounding tissues to sag and vibrate.
- If you are overweight, your throat tissues are less firm and more inclined to vibrate when you breathe.
- A low-set, thick soft palate, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids (the spongy tissue between the back of the nose and throat) can narrow your airway.
- A longer-than-normal uvula (the triangular piece of skin that hangs from your soft palate) can limit airflow and increase vibrations as you breathe.
- Nasal blockages caused by allergies or a deviated septum (when the partition between your nose is crooked) can limit airflow through your nose. This forces you to breathe through your mouth where more flabby tissue is located.
- Alcohol and certain drugs (such as tranquillizers) affect your central nervous system, causing extreme relaxation of your muscles, including those in your throat.
- When you sleep on your back, your tongue falls backwards into your throat which can narrow your airway and partly block airflow.