Everyone snores occasionally, including children. In adults, it affects approximately 30% of men and 15% of women. While occasional snoring is not considered a problem medically, regular snoring, or snoring more than three nights a week, may indicate sleep apnea which can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health.
What is snoring?
Snoring is caused by a narrowing of the upper respiratory tract during deep sleep. The muscles in the throat relax and obstruct the airway, causing tissues to vibrate as air is forced through the narrower passage.
Snoring can range from mild to severe:
- In some cases, snoring occurs only in the supine position
- More commonly, snoring occurs in any sleeping position
- Most frequently, snoring occurs in any position and is accompanied by sleep apnea: airflow is obstructed and does not reach the lower respiratory tract and lungs, resulting in a lack of oxygen to various parts of the body
When is snoring dangerous?
Snoring accompanied by the following symptoms indicate sleep apnea:
- Loud snoring
- Intermittent breathing
- Suffocating or choking
- Frequent urination
- Teeth grinding
- Chest pain
During the day:
- Lack of concentration and poor memory recall
- Headaches in the morning
- Dry mouth and dry or sore throat when waking up
- High blood pressure
Who is likely to snore?
Snoring is more common if you:
- Are overweight, as you are more likely to have a narrow airway
- Have nasal allergies
- Have a deviated septum, irregularly shaped face or underdeveloped chin
- Have enlarged tonsils that block your airway
- Drink and smoke regularly
- Take medication that causes drowsiness such as antihistamines, sleeping pills and antidepressants
- Are pregnant or menopausal
How is snoring diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you and your loved ones a series of questions and perform a physical examination. A blood test, x-ray and sleep test may also be required to determine whether your snoring is normal (primary snoring) or whether it is accompanied by sleep apnea.
How is snoring treated?
There are many methods to treat snoring depending on the cause and severity. Treatment can be non-surgical, surgical, or a combination of both, with continuous follow-up recommended.
- Lose weight and exercise regularly
- Sleep on your side with your head elevated
- Do not drink and smoke
- Use devices that keep your airway open during sleep, such as a CPAP air compressor or mouthguard
- For anatomical abnormalities such as a deviated septum or enlarged adenoids, and tonsils
- When non-surgical methods have been exhausted
Snoring affects not only your sleep, but that of your loved ones, therefore it is important to consult a doctor to come up with an effective treatment plan. The Comprehensive Sleep Clinic at Bumrungrad International Hospital is helmed by a multidisciplinary team of specialists who can help with a variety of sleep disorders.
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