Tags: Snoring | apnea | sleep | hypopnea | treatment | airway obstruction | obstructive sleep apnea

What Is Snoring?

Thursday, 18 Nov 2010 11:55 AM

It’s not funny when you are wide awake at 3 in the morning only because your man is snoring loudly, ruining your sleep! But, the fact is that just about everyone snores. Even babies and pets can snore, leading to exasperated, sleep-deprived parents and owners. So what is snoring and why does it affect so many people? Let’s find out.

Here is a simple explanation of your respiratory system and how snoring occurs:

Snoring is the sound that is heard when an individual’s breathing during sleep causes the uvula and the soft palate to vibrate. When we sleep, the nose and the oral passages decrease in size, causing air to whistle past the smaller opening, which leads to the snoring sound.

Causes of snoring:
Causes of snoring vary, and finding out the exact reason can be very difficult. Most of the time, doctors advise a thorough medical checkup of the patient to find out what is causing the problem. Identifying the cause of the problem can be the key to treatment.

Snoring can be caused by a complete airway obstruction or a partial obstruction of the nose or the upper respiratory passage. A few patients experience a complete blockage of breathing, hypopnea, or apnea during sleep that causes them to snort, gasp, and even wake up. This is called as obstructive sleep apnea and the sounds can very easily disturb everyone else in the room.

Narrowed air passages are another common reason for snoring. Men have a smaller nasal passage than women and therefore an increased tendency to snore. Other anatomical problems such as enlarged adenoids, tonsils, uvula, and a large tongue, also contribute to snoring.

Sleeping positions can also contribute to snoring. Sleeping on the back can narrow the breathing passage and increase snoring. Several snoring aids rely on poking the patient to turn over during sleep.

Certain medications and alcohol can also relax the muscles of the mouth and air passages, and contribute to snoring.

Is snoring dangerous?
Not really, but it may be an indication of an underlying medical condition. Obstructive sleep apnea, one of the main causes of snoring, has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Although snoring may not be dangerous, family members can be completely annoyed by the loud noise and many relationships have been seriously strained due to the lack of sleep of the snorer's partner.

What tests are done on snorers?
A complete medical history becomes very essential, which is followed by interviews with family members. A complete medical checkup is done and an in-depth checkup of the nose and nasal passages is also performed. In addition, sleep studies are recommended to evaluate the pattern of sleep and snoring.

Can snoring be treated?
There are several surgical and nonsurgical options that are open to patients to control snoring. Do get in touch with your physician for advice before you proceed with any surgery.

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