Snoring is the sound produced by the vibration of the soft palate and the uvula. Although snoring may not necessarily disturb the snorer, it can certainly have a detrimental effect on those around him as the noise emitted can, on occasion, be compared to that of a truck. Furthermore, snoring can be indicative of other problems such as sleep apnea or a deviated septum. It should not be taken too lightly.
There are a wide range of factors that can cause snoring, including:
- large tonsils;
- an elongated uvula ;
- nasal congestion (cold, allergies);
- alcohol, sedatives or sleeping aids;
- sleeping position (on the back);
- smoking ;
- deviated septum ;
- excess weight.
Although snoring is a symptom in itself, it can cause various "side effects" if serious enough. Such side effects include:
- chronic headache;
- fatigue or daytime drowsiness.
People with snoring problems should speak to their physician. The physician will be able to determine whether the snoring is related to sleep apnea or any other critical condition that may require a different treatment. He will also be able to provide the patient with various options aimed at resolving the snoring problem.
The most widely recommended treatment for mild snoring involves lifestyle changes such as:
- Weight loss: reduces airway blockage
- Sleeping on your side: helps keep the airway open
- Exercising: helps reach a healthy weight and improves sleep quality
- Avoiding alcohol and sedatives: reduces snoring
- Stopping smoking: reduces throat irritations
The same lifestyle changes are recommended for moderate to severe snoring, in addition to other measures. If snoring is due to nasal congestion (cold, allergies), a decongestant or nasal vaporizer can really help improve the situation. Breathing strips can also help open the nasal passage.
A treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure is another common solution. In other words, a constant flow of air flows through a mask, keeping the throat open and preventing the soft tissue from collapsing. This method is highly effective but becomes a crutch since it does not resolve the problem. The mask must be worn every night.
A dental splint can also be used to prevent the soft tissue at the back of the throat from creating a blockage and prevent the tongue from falling back into the mouth. These devices can be uncomfortable and are not for everyone.
Surgery can be effective in removing redundant soft tissue. The objective behind all these methods however is essentially the same: keep the airway clear.