Good Sleep is one of the three essential pillars of good health apart from excercise and diet.
What is Snoring?
Snoring can be described as the audible, raspy noise produced when airflow is obstructed during sleep. It occurs when the passage of air through the throat’s tissues causes vibrations, resulting in bothersome sounds. This phenomenon can manifest at any sleep stage and should not be disregarded, as it surpasses mere annoyance at bedtime.
Prevalence of Snoring
Snoring is a prevalent occurrence in our society, impacting approximately 20 percent of adults and reaching as high as 60 percent among men aged 40 and above. It can be categorized into two types: simple snoring and symptomatic snoring. Symptomatic snoring is characterized by daytime fatigue and excessive sleepiness. It is noteworthy that men tend to snore more frequently, accounting for around 25 percent, while women experience snoring at a rate of approximately 15 percent. Additionally, snoring is more prevalent among older individuals compared to younger ones.
Why do we Snore ?
Snoring happens when there is obstruction of a person’s airways. Many factors influence snoring.
- Most often, muscles in the roof of the mouth (known as the soft palate) or the back of the throat relax and partially block the flow of air.
- Obesity – Extra tissue in the throat can vibrate as you breathe in air in your sleep, causing you to snore. People who are overweight, obese or pregnant often have extra bulky throat tissue.
- Genetic factors, which cause snoring include extra throat tissue as well as enlarged tonsils, large adenoids, long soft palate or long uvula.
- Allergies, Congestion and Certain Nasal Structures- Anything that prevents you from breathing through your nose can cause you to snore. This can include congestion from a cold or flu, allergies or deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum.
- Alcohol, smoking, aging and certain drugs and medications, including muscle relaxants cause your throat or tongue muscles to get relaxed which may cause you to snore.
These all raise your risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea a condition that causes you to temporarily stop breathing when you are asleep and the heart and brain isn’t able to get enough oxygen to function properly.
Why can’t we afford to Ignore Snoring?
Snoring may be early sign of future health risks.
Besides being a nuisance to your bed partner or roommate, loud and frequent Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder and a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many other health problems which in turn can result in further complications. In children snoring is usually due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids. OSA in children can cause learning disabilities. While not everyone who snores has this sleep illness, snoring is a warning sign that should be taken seriously.
If you or your loved one have any of the following symptoms along with snoring you may have Sleep Apnea
- Excessive daytime sleepiness ( to the extent that people fall asleep behind the wheel)
- Choking or gasping while you sleep
- Pauses in breathing
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Moodiness, irritability or depression
- Frequent need to urinate during the night
A sleep medicine physician is trained to treat Snoring and detect and diagnose sleep apnea using sleep study or polysomnography. Sleep apnea is manageable using several approaches including CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), oral appliance therapy and surgery.
Snoring is generally regarded as a cosmetic issue by health insurance, requiring significant out-of-pocket expenses by patients. We’re hoping to change that thinking so patients can get the early treatment they need, before more serious public health issues arise