Sleep is therapeutic and restorative as it rejuvenates the body. But one of the most common causes for loss of sleep is snoring - for the person as well as the room partner. Consequently sleep deprivation can lead to other health hazards. Find out more about sleep apnea and snoring. If snoring is a bother to you or your room partner, look up the snoring treatment options.
Snoring and sleep apnea
Although loud snoring is a symptom of this disorder, sleep apnea and snoring are not the same. Snoring occurs if there is an obstruction in your airway. Snoring is not as harmful as sleep apnea as in the latter there is a complete blockage of breathing. However both are caused by upper level airway obstruction. Snoring may indicate presence of a more serious disorder like sleep apnea so it is recommended that
you go through a physical examination if you suspect a serious disease.
The retrolingual and hypopharyngeal areas are affected in both sleep apnea and snoring. Due to this disturbance in the normal sleep pattern, predictably the person feels tired and sleepy during the day. Morning headaches, irritability and personality changes are some of the other side effects. Normally, this condition is recognized first by the room partner of the individual whose sleep also may be disturbed due to the sounds and gasps of their partner.
Causes of snoring
Snoring is usually caused by incorrect sleeping posture and can be corrected by adjusting the person to a better position. Sleeping on one's side can relieve one from sleep apnea and keeping the head raised by 4 to 6 inches can also relieve snoring. This can be aided by a special pillow or by elevating the bed to a higher position.
Go to bed and arise at the same time each morning. Record your sleep disturbances and patterns using a sleep diary, which will also help with the diagnosis. A diagnostic sleep study or polysomnogram carried out in a hospital, sleep lab or at home can help determine the disorder.
A blocked nose, increasing age, being male, hypothyroidism, menopause, receding lower jaw, smoking, intake of alcohol before bedtime and allergies can cause snoring. Snoring can be the result of acid reflux after a meal or medications or alcohol consumption. In fact in most cases, snoring results from a combination of factors.
Try to relax. Do not bring your work home. Excessive fatigue and irregular work schedules lead to erratic sleep patterns. Adopt relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga and breathing exercises.
Enlarged tonsils, adenoids or excess tissue at the back of the throat can cause constrictions in the airway. Surgery to remove these
obstructions can relieve snoring and sleep apnea. Medical interventions and surgery are used to treat upper airway obstructions.
- Medicines such as acetazolamide help lower the blood pH value and aid respiration.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is only 40 to 50 % successful with sufferers of sleep apnea. However it proves to be up to 80% effective with light snorers. Surgery addresses different parts affecting respiration including the pharynx, throat, base of tongue, facial skeleton, nasal septum, the tonsils or jaws by way of two jaw surgeries.
- One step Laser treatment may also be used to remove the uvula and trim the soft palate. This procedure takes about 20 to 30
minutes and the patient is in an awake and upright position.
- A common treatment method is by the implementation of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device which helps open up the
person's airway by the inflow of pressurized air into the throat. This however is not a permanent treatment as it only treats the symptoms.
- OAT or Oral Appliance Therapy may be recommended by a dentist which uses a mouthpiece to shift the lower jaw thus opening up the
airway. This helps those with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
- A wind instrument called the didgeridoo which is a natural wood instrument is being practiced by several sleep apnea and
snoring patients as it helps strengthen the muscles in the upper airway.
- Specialized singing exercises are being developed to tone the throat, the soft palate, tongue and nasaopharynx. These have
found significant success.
- Herbal concoctions in the form of capsules which help increase inspiration are also being used increasingly in the United States. The lobelia extract and other herbs are used to aid breathing and relieve nausea.
- Nasal sprays, mouth guards, hormone replacement therapy, thyroxine intake and reducing contact with potential allergens are non-surgical
measures you can consider for snoring treatment.