Sleeping in the same room as someone who snores can be annoying, and it can make a snorer self-conscious about sleeping around others. Besides keeping your partner awake at night, snoring can be part of a bigger problem like sleep apnea. Read on to find out the cause of snoring and how to treat or prevent it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, snoring occurs when air pushes past the relaxed tissues at the back of the throat. That movement of air is what causes that infamous snoring sound. Aside from that sound, you may also experience the following symptoms:
- Gasping or choking at night
- Restless sleep
- A sore throat
- Irregular heart beats
- High blood pressure
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
Snoring can be caused by a variety of health problems or even by a problem with the nose, throat or mouth. Some of those problems include:
- A large tongue
- Nasal polyps
- Bone or facial abnormalities
- A stuffy nose or chronic congestion
- A swollen soft palate, uvula or tonsils. If any of the areas of are enlarged or longer than normal, this could also cause you to snore.
- A crooked or deviated nasal septum, which is the partition that separates the nostrils. A deviated septum could also create a blockage that would cause snoring.
One of the most common causes of snoring is a condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs in certain people who snore. Men are especially prone to developing sleep apnea than women. Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing while you sleep for periods of about 10 seconds. Once you start to breathe again, a short gasp or snort will occur, which, in turn, will cause you to start snoring.
But sleep apnea and other health problems aren’t the only causes of snoring. Certain lifestyle choices can also be the reason why you’re snoring:
- Being overweight. Extra tissue can build up around the neck and throat and will cause the airways to narrow. Weight gain from pregnancy can also causes this as can poor muscle tone. (To learn more about pregnancy weight, read Understanding Weight Gain And Loss During Pregnancy.)
- Drinking too much alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol will cause your muscles to relax, including your throat muscles. It will also inhibit your body’s defense again blockages in the airways.
- Using sleeping pills or antihistamines. They have an effect similar to alcohol.
If you notice your symptoms worsening or more symptoms developing, it’s best to consult with your doctor to find out what the underlying cause may be. Your doctor will probably conduct a physical exam and ask you and your partner about your snoring patterns. Your doctor may also recommend an imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan, to check for problems with your airways.
A doctor might also recommend you to take part in a sleep study. A sleep study is conducted at a sleep center, where you will stay overnight. Sensors will be placed on different areas of your body and will measure blood pressure, heart rate and other indicators to give the doctor a good sense of your sleeping habits.
Your doctor will probably prescribe a treatment based on what the cause of the problem is. Your doctor may treat the problem in one of the following ways:
- Surgery: You may need surgery to correct a deviated septum, to remove your tonsils or to fix a swollen palate.
- Dental guards: Your doctor may ask you to wear some sort of dental guard or oral appliance to keep your tongue from falling back into your throat.
- CPAP machine: If you suffer from sleep apnea, your doctor will probably ask you to wear a CPAP mask while you sleep. This will help you breathe and will prevent you from snoring.
If your snoring is caused by being overweight or by drinking alcohol before bedtime, your doctor will recommend that you lose weight or stop drinking at night, respectively.
If you prefer to try home remedies or make some lifestyle changes before seeing a doctor, here are some things you can try:
- Try sleeping in different positions at night. Sleeping on your back will only worsen your snoring, so try sleeping on your sides to prevent your airways from being obstructed.
- Try wearing an over-the-counter nasal strip. These will widen your nasal passages, making it easier for you to breathe at night.
- Maintain a healthy weight or even lose a few pounds. This can help to keep extra tissue from building up around your throat.
(For more natural ways to prevent snoring, read 5 Home Remedies To Stop And Prevent Snoring.)
Although snoring is an annoying habit that can keep you and your partner awake throughout the night, it could also indicate a serious problem with your health. Seeing a doctor before the symptoms worsen can help you identify the underlying cause and get the proper treatment for the problem.