Snoring is a noise caused when floppy tissue at the back of the throat, such as the uvula, blocks the upper air passages during sleep. It may be a symptom of the more serious disorder sleep apnoea, more common in men.
Turbulent airflow creates quite violent vibrations of the soft palate or other structures in the
mouth, nose and throat. Depending on how flappable these structures are, vibrations can
Treatment of Snoring
There are a number of new surgical operations for snorers who are found to have
obstructions or deformities of the mouth, nose and throat. Such operations are not always
guaranteed to work, however. If snoring is accompanied by sleep apnoea, which is detrimental to your health, treatment may be available on the NHS from an ear, nose and throat surgeon or a respiratory physician. Ask your GP about the possibility.
A revolutionary new treatment using low-power, low-temperature, radio-frequency
energy will reduce the size of the soft palate.
Laser-assisted uvuloplasty – LAUP
Corrective Nasal Airway Surgery – Septoplasty/Nasal polypectomy
Minor surgery that opens up the nasal passage by removing a polyp or correcting a
deformity that is responsible for reducing the size of the nasal passage produce snorting sounds of such resonance that the decibels can be heard throughout the house and curtail the sleep of anyone who’s in it.
Most causes of snoring are easily remedied, and there’s a good chance that simple treatment or a change in lifestyle will significantly improve things. But other causes are more complex and need specialist investigation and treatment.
Where the tonsils and the walls of the pharynx (throat) are causing an obstruction, this operation will be of benefit in a small number of snorers and mild sleep apnoea sufferers.
Apnoea literally means a temporary’ inability to breathe. Sleep apnoea is when a sufferer stops breathing during sleep. The cessation of breathing causes a drop in the blood oxygen level, which arouses the body to start breathing again.
Causes of Snoring
Some factors make us more likely to snore. Smoking, being overweight, consumption of alcohol, use of sleeping pills, poor sleeping position and reaction to house dust and dust mites are all implicated. Avoiding these factors may reduce the likelihood of snoring.
Several things make us more likely to snore:
- obstruction by the tongue if it drops hack
- small or collapsing nostrils
- deviated nasal septum, say from a sports injury
- overnight catarrhal congestion
- large, floppy soft palate or uvula
- enlarged nasal bones in the nostrils
- nasal polyps
- in children, enlarged adenoids and mouth breathing.
Is Snoring Dangerous?
Snoring in itself isn’t serious but it can be a symptom of a more serious disorder, sleep apnoea, in which the snorer stops breathing several times an hour during sleep. The point is that people with sleep apnoea are prone to irregular heartbeats, even possibly heart attacks.
The most vulnerable person is a man over the age of 45 or a woman who’s gone through the menopause and isn’t taking hormone replacement therapy. So if you’re a middle-aged snorer, ask your doctor to check you over.
What Is Sleep Apnoea?
The sleep/arousal cycle is repeated during the night and sufferers get up feeling unrefreshed and continually tired. More often than not, they’re unaware of their condition.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea
Common symptoms are:
- loud snoring
- feelings of choking and shortness of breath at night
- restless, unrefreshing sleep
- excessive daytime sleepiness
- personality changes
- morning headaches.
Several hospitals have sleep apnoea and snoring clinics that can investigate the cause of snoring and diagnose sleep apnoea. Your GP can refer you for special tests to diagnose the cause of your snoring and recommend treaUnent.
Some overweight patients are described as “weight-sensitive” snorers. You’ll be given a weight-loss programme, and weight reduction alone may provide a complete cure.
How Does Losing Weight Help?
Snoring problems are often made worse if you’re slightly overweight. Significant relief can often be obtained by some degree of weight reduction, so a sensible eating plan may be of help.