Do you or your partner snore?

Snoring is something that most people experience at some time in their lives. It is most common in men, though a lot of women also snore.

Snoring is something that gets worse with age. In some cases snoring can be a nuisance or lead to direct and serious health problems. Poor sleep, family problems and sleep apnoea are some of the most significant problems that can be caused by snoring.

You should therefore always seek medical help if you suffer with snoring and are unable to deal with the problem yourself.

Sleep apnoea can lead to secondary illnesses
Snoring may be associated with sleep apnoea, which involves an increased risk of secondary illnesses, such as stroke, high blood pressure and cardiac infarction. Sleep apnoea must therefore always be investigated and treated in order to avoid these serious illnesses.

Snoring can also occur in children, and this may be linked to enlarged tonsils. The doctor will be able to advise you on what you can do before surgery or breathing mask treatment can be recommended.

Most people have episodes of snoring at some point in their lives, though it is rarely a problem. In about ten percent of cases, where snoring is more fatiguing than normal, treatment is required.

Symptoms of snoring
Snoring can lead to poor quality of sleep both for the snorer and for anyone nearby. The snorer may therefore suffer from tiredness during the day, and that can cause difficulty in social situations.

It is not uncommon for snoring to result in pain in the nose or throat. Some people who suffer from snoring also have respiratory arrest and severely disturbed sleep, known as sleep apnoea.

People with this condition stop breathing for short but frequent periods while they are sleeping. It causes reduced blood oxygen levels, which in turn can lead to what is known as cardiovascular disease. Over time, this can further reduce the quality of sleep.

Treating and preventing snoring
Snoring can often be improved by sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol and sleeping medicines, giving up smoking and losing weight if you are overweight. If this does not help, a breathing machine, an anti-snoring mouthpiece or surgery may be necessary.

Weight loss is the most effective measure for people who are overweight. Snoring is most common when you sleep on your back, so this is something you should try to avoid.

One thing that is known to help is to sew a pocket into the back of your pyjamas and put a tennis ball in it. This makes sleeping on your back so uncomfortable that you instinctively turn over in your sleep.

Breathing machines provide increased pressure in the airways
If snoring has become a serious problem, especially combined with sleep apnoea, it may help to use a breathing machine in the form of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine.

A CPAP machine prevents collapse by ensuring that there is positive pressure in the airways. This often provides satisfactory control of snoring, though it is not always accepted by patients as they may find the mask uncomfortable.

Anti-snoring mouthpieces let air in
If this is the case, you can try an anti-snoring mouthpiece. This is made with the help of a dentist.

It keeps the airway open by keeping the jaw pushed forward. However, anti-snoring mouthpieces are not as effective as CPAP.

Surgical treatment
With some people, there may be structural causes for their snoring. These may include a large tongue or large tonsils, or the nasal passages may be narrow, often due to polyps or deflection of the nasal septum.

In these cases, an operation may be required. There are a lot of different types of surgery that can be used.

Surgery will often result in an improvement, especially to begin with, though the problem may come back after a few years.

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List of possible measures

  • Weight reduction
  • Giving up smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding sleeping on your back
  • Avoiding sleeping medicines
  • Breathing machine (CPAP)
  • Anti-snoring mouthpiece

Investigation and diagnosis
Snoring can be diagnosed by talking with a doctor, preferably together with your partner. In some cases, referral to a sleep laboratory may be necessary.

In order to diagnose snoring, the doctor will ask you about your problems with snoring, so it may help to have your partner present.

In this talk with the doctor, it is important to find out whether you have respiratory arrest during the night, and if so, how often it happens. If it is not certain whether you have respiratory arrest, and you have problems with tiredness during the day and difficulty concentrating, referral to a sleep laboratory may be appropriate.

Here you will be monitored while you sleep, usually to find out whether you have sleep apnoea. The nose and throat are also usually examined for any obvious obstructions.

A blood test may be required in order to find out whether there is any other illness present. Slow metabolism may cause or worsen existing snoring.

Sleep monitoring
Snoring occurs during deep sleep, when the body’s muscles, including those in the throat, are so relaxed that the soft tissue starts to vibrate.

Snoring is so common as to be considered a normal phenomenon. A narrow throat or nose is thought to be the most common cause of snoring.

The snoring sound is usually caused by vibrations in the soft tissue towards the back of the roof of the mouth, the soft palate (including the uvula). Investigating the oral cavity involves checking for an overbite, large tonsils, a large tongue, and/or a large uvula.

The results of the investigation will determine which measures ought to be taken. It is also important to investigate the causes of any nasal blockage, as this is also associated with snoring. The nose can be checked for deflection of the septum, polyps and excessive amounts of soft tissue at the rear opening of the nose.

Snoring caused by excess weight
Excess weight is considered to be a very important factor when assessing snoring. An increased neck measurement due to excess weight may cause compression of the airways.

Losing weight will usually reduce or completely eliminate snoring.

Alcohol and sleeping medicine
Alcohol and sleeping drugs have a relaxant effect, and they may make the musculature in the entire body relax more than usual. This is also the case with the muscles in the throat and the airways.

This is why alcohol, for example, is associated with an increased tendency to snore. It is recommended that you avoid sleeping medicines, and alcohol should not be drunk in the evening.

Prognosis
Snoring is a problem that most people experience at some time. With some people, medical treatment is required in order to control the problem.

There are effective therapeutic methods for severe snoring problems. If you follow the recommended treatment, you will probably be able to control the problem.

Snoring is not easy to cure, but there is a lot that can be done to prevent it in situations where this is necessary.

Facts about Snoring

  • Snoring is something that most people experience at some time in their lives. It is most common in men, though a lot of women also snore.
  • Snoring is something that gets worse with age. Children can also snore.
  • In some cases snoring can be a nuisance or lead to direct health problems.
  • Snoring may be associated with sleep apnoea, which is a syndrome associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Sleep apnoea should be investigated and treated.
  • Weight reduction and other lifestyle advice can help a lot of people. However, some people require further treatment, such as a breathing machine or an anti-snoring mouthpiece.
  • For some people surgery is required in order to improve the airflow.

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