Ever wondered why do people snore? Snoring might be linked to an underlying sleep disorder.
Serial snorers alert! Snoring may be a sign of sleep-disordered breathing. If snoring is starting to negatively affect your life, say your breathing or sleep deprivation, you might want to check what else is going on underneath the surface.
Sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea are actually much more common than you think. Sleep apnea occurs in about 25% of men and 10% of women.
Here’s what you need to know about your snoring.
What causes snoring?
Causes can vary from nose block triggered by a crooked septal bone in the nose, over large inferior turbinates (structures on the sidewall of the inner nose), chronic rhinosinusitis, allergies and polyps. Other causes include low-lying soft palates, a thick or short neck, obesity and prolapsed tongue base.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In a study published by the Medical Clinics of North America, up to 40 per cent of snorers have oxygen desaturations due to obstruction of the airways in sleep – also known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Apnea is when the muscles around your throat temporarily relax, resulting in periods when breathing stop.
In addition to being tired and irritable during the day, snoring may cause side effects like mild headaches and result in poor concentration and memory. Also, there is an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes for adults with OSA.
A sleep study is needed to determine the severity of the disorder and the cause. This can be done at home, but more complex cases will need to be addressed at a clinic or hospital.
For mild snoring, a change of sleep position, avoiding alcohol and smoking, managing one’s weight and nasal blocks can help. You may also require oral devices or medication. However, over the counter products to treat snoring should not be tried without a sleep study or doctor’s evaluation, as treatments should be tailored to the cause.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks are the gold standard treatment for advanced cases. However, some patients may find it hard to tolerate the masks.
Another alternative is careful and targeted surgery to the nose, soft palate, the base of the tongue or jaw.
Originally by Lynne Lim, July 2017 / Last updated by Isabel Wibowo