Snoring is caused by the vibrating movement of the uvula and the soft palate that is located in the roof of the mouth. The uvula is the small mass of tissue that hangs down from the middle of the soft palate. When a person sleeps, the uvula and the soft palate relax and vibrating movements occur, causing the snoring sound. Approximately, 40 percent of men snore, and only 30 percent of women snore. Doctors are not sure why more men snore than women do.
Symptoms and Signs
Many times, snoring occurs in the presence of other signs and symptoms. These are indicators that there could be an underlying health condition that should be treated. Some symptoms and signs to look for include:
- Frequent sore throats
- Nasal drainage and congestion
- Itchy, watery eyes and sneezing
- Frequent fatigue and drowsiness
- Nose Bleeds
- Mouth breathing
Causes and Concerns
There are many causes of snoring, and most are treatable. One main cause of snoring is obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious medical condition. What happens during the course of the night is the person will experience anywhere from 30 to 300 pauses lasting approximately 10 seconds. This means the person stops breathing for about 10 seconds several times a night. The pauses are caused by the airway collapse and narrowing. This makes the heart have to work harder because the pauses decrease the amount of oxygen in the blood. If the obstructive sleep apnea continues without treatment, it puts you at a higher risk for developing several health problems including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Other causes of snoring include:
- Sinus infection
- Deviated septum
- Thick throat tissue
- Too much soft tissue in the neck
- Tonsils and adenoids (primarily children)
Solutions and Options
There are many treatment options available for people who snore. If the person is obese, then weight loss can cure the problem. A surgical procedure that involves insertion of rods into the soft palate is known as Pillar implants, and this is an option for some who snore. Another surgical procedure, called Genioglossus and hyoid advancement, prevents the lower part of the throat from collapsing and pulls the tongue muscles forward.
CPAP is the most common treatment, and it is used by hundreds of people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP device involves a mask that is worn over the nose and mouth that is connected to a machine that delivers a positive amount of pressure. This is done to keep the airway open. If you or someone you love has sleep apnea, call our office for an appointment with one of our caring nose and mouth specialists.
Some homecare tips for those who snore:
- Try to sleep on your side not your back.
- Elevate your head with a few extra pillows.
- Get into a regular sleep routine (go to bed and rise at the same time).
- Eat healthy food, exercise, quit smoking, and limit your alcohol consumption.
- Avoid using sleeping aids or sedatives.
Snoring does not have to be an issue in your life. There are plenty of solutions and options to help you stop snoring. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms and signs associated with snoring, consider an evaluation with our physician.