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Almost everybody snores once in a while. For some, though, it is a chronic issue. Not only can it be problematic for snorers, it can affect everyone in the family by disrupting their sleep as well. So, what are the root causes of snoring?
According to Sleep.org, there is a tendency for snoring to run in families as there are two genetic markers that may have a strong link to snoring. The anatomy of one’s mouth is another contributing factor. If the palate is thick and low, it can narrow the airway; if the uvula (the small piece of tissue at the back of the throat) is elongated, this can increase vibration and obstruct airflow. Nasal congestion can also cause snoring. People with deviated nasal septums may experience frequent congestion, and having a cold also blocks the nasal passages.
Obesity can be genetic too, and excess weight leads to reduced muscle tone and increased tissue in the throat and neck. Chronic snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can be seen in obese individuals, and it is also more common for men to snore and have apnea than women.
Those who sleep on their backs are likelier to snore, and to snore louder. This is because of the effects of gravity; its effects narrow the airways in back-sleepers. Another risk factor is alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol actually relaxes throat muscles and lessens the body’s defenses against airway obstruction. Certain medications also relax these muscles.
Older individuals are also more prone to snoring. One reason is because the tongue and throat muscles seem to relax more during sleep for this population. This causes a vibration when they inhale. On top of this, people’s sleep habits change as they get older, and it can be hard to fall – and stay – asleep. It can be a vicious cycle, as sleep deprivation causes more throat relaxation and snoring.
Many people can eliminate their snoring by making lifestyle changes. Cutting down on alcohol consumption and smoking, especially before bed, can alleviate the symptoms. It is also a good idea to check medications; some tranquilizers make snoring worse, while antihistamines can help since they reduce nasal congestion.
Another way to lessen congestion is to clean the bedroom of pet dander and dust mites, since many people are allergic to these. Rinsing sinuses with saline or neti pots or using a humidifier can also help. Losing weight can be challenging, but it can provide a cure for the snoring. Learning to sleep in a different position can also be hard to do, but using extra or different kinds of pillows can make this easier.
Contacting A Physician
Some people purchase over-the-counter products like nasal strips to stop their snoring, but these do not work for everyone. If the symptoms are severe and include gasping for air while sleeping, very loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, and dry mouth, it could be indicative of obstructive sleep apnea. It is recommended that people with these symptoms contact their physicians.
Anti-snoring mouth appliances work for some people, and are made by dentists. Physicians can perform procedures like laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty which shortens the uvula, somnoplasty that shrinks soft tissue, or palatal implants.
A popular treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. This uses a mask to deliver air pressure during sleep. Although it works well for many, some do not like it because it is uncomfortable or awkward to use. It may be worthwhile to stick with it though, since long term use can be beneficial.
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