Snoring: What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Snoring is a health problem that is very common among people and brings with it many negative effects, from decreased sleep quality to social problems.
Snoring is a health problem that is very common among people and brings with it many negative effects, from decreased sleep quality to social problems. When the air taken during breathing causes noise as it moves through the respiratory tract, it is called snoring. This problem, which can be encountered in many people from time to time, can become chronic and continue throughout life in some people. If there are structural problems related to the respiratory tract, snoring can be treated by treating them and implementing some lifestyle changes. For this reason, it is beneficial for patients with chronic snoring complaints to pay attention to this situation and get checked by a doctor.
What is Snoring?
In its most basic definition, snoring is a problem of noisy breathing during sleep. Snoring problem, which is much more common in men, overweight and older individuals than in other people, can be seen occasionally or constantly. In people with snoring problems, the air taken during sleep causes vibration as it passes through the loose tissues in the throat, resulting in a hoarse and rough voice. Some measures, such as maintaining the ideal body mass by losing weight, avoiding alcohol consumption close to bedtime, or using a high pillow or sleeping on your side, are generally very effective in preventing or reducing snoring. In some people, snoring may be caused by problems such as nasal contusions, deformities and trauma. In such cases, some medical devices may be used to treat snoring or surgical operations may be required. Although it is very common and usually has no serious cause, in some cases snoring can be a sign of serious health problems. For this reason, it is recommended that patients with snoring complaints apply to health institutions and be examined.
What are the symptoms of snoring?
As the name suggests, snoring is a problem of sound coming from the respiratory tract during sleep. However, due to snoring problems, the quality of sleep in patients is significantly affected, and this paves the way for the formation of different symptoms. Some of these problems, which can be called snoring symptoms, can be listed as follows:
- dry mouth
- Bad breath in mouth
- Sore throat
- Waking up to the sound of your own snoring
- lack of sleep
- Frequent waking up at night
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring can be caused by many reasons, from certain lifestyle problems to serious respiratory diseases. Many reasons such as problems related to the anatomical structure of the mouth and sinuses, simple colds, and excess weight are among the factors known to be associated with snoring. Under normal conditions, the palate, tongue and throat muscles in the upper part of the mouth relax. These softened tissues may become loose enough to partially or completely block the respiratory tract. In humans, the narrower the respiratory tract, the stronger the air flow, which can increase the vibration in the tissues and lead to snoring. Therefore, the anatomical structure of the respiratory tract is the factor most closely related to snoring. Apart from these, other causes of snoring include:
- Problems related to palate structure
- Excess weight (obesity)
- Chronic nasal congestion problem
- Problems related to the structure of the nose (septum deviation, bone curvature, adenoids, etc.)
- Insomnia and irregular sleep
- Preferring a supine sleeping position
- Muscle weakness in the throat and tongue
- seasonal allergies
- nasal polyps
How to Diagnose Snoring?
Many individuals learn that they have a snoring problem from their partner, family or people they live with. Information from the person’s relatives on issues such as how long the snoring problem has been going on and whether it varies depending on the sleeping position, should be taken when deciding to consult a physician. When you consult a doctor about your snoring problem, it would be beneficial to have a relative who lives with you and has witnessed your snoring come with you. In order to understand the cause of your snoring, the doctor may ask certain questions to both you and your relative. Then, a physical examination is usually performed by the physician to detect problems such as tonsil swelling (tonsillitis), chronic nasal congestion due to sinusitis, allergic rhinitis or septum deviation that may cause snoring. During this examination, your doctor asks you to sit on a chair and examines your respiratory tract with the help of a thin tube with a light and camera at the end. Conditions such as structural problems in the nose, rhinitis or sinusitis can be easily detected with the help of this simple examination that takes a few minutes. In addition, the structure of the nose and respiratory tract can be examined in more detail by using imaging techniques such as x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT). After the causes of snoring are determined, a treatment plan is initiated for them.
What are the symptoms that occur with snoring?
Problems related to lifestyle or sleeping position may cause snoring problems that do not cause any serious complications. But many cases of snoring are related to obstructive sleep apnea. Especially in the presence of some symptoms in addition to snoring, the possibility of a sleep apnea problem increases. These symptoms include:
- Napping during the day
- difficulty concentrating
- Short-term respiratory arrest during sleep
- Headache in the morning
- restlessness in sleep
- high blood pressure
- Sore throat in the morning
- Feeling out of breath at night
- Snoring very loudly
In addition, one of the most important indicators of the presence of obstructive sleep apnea in patients with snoring complaints is the periods of silence that follow loud snoring. As a result of this silence caused by the cessation of breathing, waking up or making sounds similar to grunting may be observed. Snoring problems that occur alone or in combination with the above symptoms should be taken seriously and a doctor should be consulted.
Chronic snoring problem, especially when seen together with obstructive sleep apnea, definitely requires medical treatment. The practices to be used in the treatment of snoring vary depending on the problems experienced by the patient, health status, obesity status and the cause of snoring. Excess weight is among the main causes of snoring as it causes obstruction of the respiratory tract. For this reason, overweight individuals should reach their ideal body mass by starting a weight loss diet under the supervision of a dietician. In addition, alcohol consumption should be avoided close to bedtime, and care should be taken to get adequate and regular sleep. Since lying on your back narrows the airways due to the effect of gravity, a side-lying position should be preferred. If there is chronic nasal congestion due to sinusitis, allergy or structural disorder, attention should be paid to the examination and treatments for this.
In patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the use of some oral appliances may be necessary to keep the air passage open. When the use of such devices or devices is deemed necessary, patients are directed to their dentists regarding device selection and oral compatibility. Patients who use oral appliances should come for follow-up examinations at the intervals recommended by their physicians. Additionally, problems such as increased salivation, dry mouth, pain and discomfort in the jaw may occur due to the use of these devices.
Some patients with obstructive sleep apnea may need a mask called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). In this treatment, a mask is worn over the mouth and nose during sleep. With the help of the pump at one end of the mask, air pressure is created to keep the respiratory tract open during sleep. Although this treatment provides an effective treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, most patients have problems complying with the treatment. The last treatment method for the treatment of snoring associated with sleep apnea is surgical operations. The purpose of surgical operations is generally to perform interventions to prevent obstruction of the respiratory tract. With the surgical treatment technique called uvulopharyngoplasty (UPPP), it is possible to expand the respiratory tract by stretching the excess tissues in the throat of the patient who is placed under general anesthesia. In maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) application, which can be preferred for treatment purposes, the lower and upper jaws are moved forward to open the airway.
Treatment can be performed using radiofrequency signals to shrink the soft tissues in the palate, tongue or nose. This application is called radiofrequency tissue ablation. In hypoglossal nerve stimulation, another treatment approach, a stimulant is applied to the nerve that controls the forward movement of the tongue. In this way, the tongue can be prevented from blocking the airway while breathing during sleep. Which of these treatment approaches will be preferred is determined after detailed examination and examinations by the physician.
If you have a constant snoring problem, you can contact a health institution and undergo an examination to investigate the causes of this situation. If you are diagnosed with a health problem related to your lifestyle or respiratory tract, you can prevent snoring and improve your quality of life by starting treatment for this problem.