Why Do I Snore?

Snoring is created by the vibration of the tissues lining the air passages (nasal passage , soft palate and pharynx). In most patients, it is due to multiple factors. These include narrowing or blockage of the upper airway passages through anatomical shape or injury as well as factors contributing to congestion of the soft tissues of the airways, e.g. smoking, alcohol, acid reflux from the stomach affecting the throat tissues, obesity, ageing and hormonal factors.

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Is Snoring Dangerous?

Snoring is a major symptom of sleep apnoea (OSA). This is a serious condition which can cause fatigue and morning tiredness. It is also a risk for driving accidents and work safety as well as for heart attacks and strokes.

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What is Sleep Apnoea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is where there are episodes of blockage of the upper airway during sleep. These create a reduction in the level of blood oxygen and disturb your pattern of sleep. Its is very common, mostly undiagnosed and potentially very dangerous. It is a common cause of tiredness, daytime sleepiness and poor sleep quality.

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How can I tell if I have Sleep Apnoea?

Take this simple quiz to find out.

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Will I live longer if I correct my snoring?

Numerous studies show that snoring from sleep apnoea reduces survival. Over 20 years, you have a 70% change of reduced survival with severe OSA compared to someone without.

Are there any non-surgical help for snoring?

Snoring may be assisted by certain devices which are safe, extremely effective and quick to work. We will tailor the right treatment for you.

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Will fixing my snoring improve my lifestyle?

Snoring correction will assist both socially and medically. Snoring is frequently disruptive to sleep of the other members of the family and impacts relationships. Snorers may also be unpopular room-mates on holidays or business trips!

If you are tired or very sleepy in the day or wake up unrefreshed – it could be snoring. Assisting the medical problems related to snoring may also improve life quality. More severe snoring may contribute to elevated blood pressure and, with this, increased risk of stroke.

"My wife says I snore a lot. I don’t think I have Sleep Apnoea, but I’m not sure. Is there anything I can do for a serious snoring problem?"

ANSWER : People snore when the airways in the nose and throat get too small, so the air rushing in and out as they inhale and exhale gets funneled through a narrower passageway. The noise is mainly from the vibration of loose tissue, often the soft palate, in the back of the throat.

Some people are snorers because they have too much throat and nasal tissue. Others have floppy tissue that’s more likely to vibrate. And being overweight is a cause: Extra fat tissue in the neck and throat sometimes presses in on airways.

The causes of snoring and sleep apnoea overlap. But when someone has sleep apnoea, the airway gets blocked completely—or very nearly so. All the little interruptions in breathing can lead to a lack of oxygen that puts a strain on the heart. That’s why people with sleep apnoea have a higher risk for heart attack and heart failure. A sleep study is the only way to find out if sleep apnoea exists and to what extent.

Snoring doesn’t pose any health risks, but it’s still a problem if your bed partner can’t sleep! There are some simple things you can try to dial down the decibels. If you sleep on your back, switch to your side. When you are on your back, your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of the throat tend to slide back, creating a narrower airway. If you drink alcohol in the evening, try drinking less. Alcohol is a muscle relaxant, and it may be affecting the muscles around your airways. Sleeping pills sometimes have the same effect. Trying to breathe through a stuffed-up nose can create a small vacuum that pulls the walls of the upper airway in. If you’re stuffed up a lot, you might have allergies that could be prevented or treated.

Dental "appliances" that look like the mouth guards worn by athletes can reposition the jaw and the tongue and are very effective.

If none of this helps or is relevant, there are several operations that may help. Doctors can laser away excess tissue, or shrink it with instruments that deliver high-frequency radio waves. These procedures are reasonably effective, but the sore throat during the recovery period can be pretty painful.

Neil Bhattacharyya, M.D.

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