I used to share a room with my elder brother, when I was a little girl. We played together, made smoke screen in the elevator out of a piece of plastic and foil, had brutal box fights without boxing-gloves. We had many different things and situations, which kids normally have. But sometimes I had no sleep because of him. It happened when he got cold. In the middle of the night he started to snore, louder and louder, it was absolutely impossible to sleep, until I threw something heavy to the wardrobe and he stopped. After some minutes of silence I heard his snore again.
This noisy, annoying sound is caused by the vibrations of soft tissues, which are located at the back of the throat. If someone has too much tissue at the back of their mouth, the palate, uvula and tonsils are flapping against each other. The same thing is caused, when an obstruction blocks the air passageway to the back of the throat.
Reasons why people snore
People snore because of:
- throat and tounge muscle weakness,
- obstructed nasal airways,
- fat gathering in or around the throat,
- long soft palate or uvula tissue in the back of the mouth,
- misposition of the jaw as a result of muscle tension.
Snoring has such effects as irritability, lack of focus, decreased libido, daytime sleepiness. Snoring also causes psychological and social damage, it strains social relationships. It is proven, that marital relationships significantly improve after the surgical correction of snoring. So, maybe, you only need to stop snoring to be happy with your partner?
Here are some facts about snoring:
- 20% of Americans has snoring problem.
- Men have more problems with snoring, than women.
- Snoring is louder, when a person sleeps on their back.
- People with excess weigh have snoring problems much more often, than thin ones.
Snoring is Life threatening
Snoring is harmful not only for those who are trying to sleep while the other one is snoring. Snoring is dangerous. Maybe you have heard of dying during sleep? Snorers are the first listed in this risk group. Sometimes. when one is snoring, they get pauses in breathing, which prevent the air flow into or out of a sleeping person’s airways. This is the first symptom of sleep apnea, a life threatening sleep disorder. People having sleep apnea awaken frequently during the night gasping for breath. Really life threatening can be the situation, when the breathing pauses happen 30-40 times per hour. Every such pause reduces blood oxygen levels, strain the heart and cardiovascular system and, thus, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Regular snoring is also associated with hypertension. If you snore doudly or regularly, if you have breathing pauses during your sleep, you should consult a physician. There exist about 300 devices that help to cure snoring patented in the USA.
Snoring is recognized by a partner, friend or family member who observes the sleeping person. After you get to know, that you snore, you get embarrassed and feel uncomfortable. You cannot notice, that you snore, and you cannot control it, but other people notice it very well and sometimes get irritated with you. There exist different treatment methods for snorers.
Positive airway pressure
In order to cure snoring there was invented a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mashine, which keeps the airway open and lets the air flow. This device (about 40×20 cm) pumps a controlled air stream to a mask which is worn over the nose or mouth, with the help of a hose.
Surgical solutions are also available, if you want to stop snoring. During such procedures as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty the doctor removes tissues in the back of the patient’s throat and, thus, widen the airway. But you surely should consult your physician about the side effects of such procedures. The American Medical Association does not approve of the use of lazer during the operations on the uvula or pharnyx, because it is difficult to predict, how much the patient is predisposed to scarring after such procedures. But such operations are often made, for example, in Germany with success, glad patients and their happy relatives.
Apart from uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, there also exist a newer surgical treatment for snoring usually performed on an outpatient basis, which is called Radiofrequency ablation (RFA). During this procedure radiofrequency energy and heat are applied to the soft tissue at the back of the throat. This causes scarring of the tissue beneath the skin, but after healing the treated area stiffens. Usually you need several procedures, each of them takes less than one hour. Comparing to the previous method, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty provides minimal discomfort and pain.
One of the devices against snoring is mandibular advancement splint. Such dental appliances advance the lower jaw slightly and leave the tongue forward. They help reduce snoring and sleep apnea, however they have side effects, such as the change of the snorer’s bite.
There also exist cheeper variants of dental appliances, called “Do it yourself” dental appliances. They also hold the lower jaw forward to move the tongue forward and look similar to the mouth-guards used for sports. But they are considered to be medical devices of the second class and are illegal in the USA. They also have side effects, such as Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), which is the inflammation of the jaw joint, but, for example, brackets used to correct the bite can also cause it. Such dental appliances for snorers are sold illegally in the Internet and are legal in some countries.
But some people need neither surgical operations, nor dental appliances, nor other devices to stop snoring. They just need to change their diet, or lose weight, or follow regular sleeping patterns. It can also be helpful to remove allergy triggers from the snorer’s bedroom or treat a cold. But in case of sleep apnea a person needs to consult a physician. Anyway different aids and procedures may work for different people.
Snore deprives people of necessary rest: both those who snore and those who hear it. In some cases it can be life threatening. But modern medicine makes it possible to heal the snorer and make everyone get their Zzz. Good night.