Snoring has often been considered normal by people who frequently hear or encounter the phenomenon. Even you might have heard a complaint from your family member or a friend about your snoring loud.
You might have wondered for long if snoring is normal or if you should be alarmed when you hear someone, especially your loved one, snore.
Another thing that might be worrying you is bothering your partner who might be experiencing sleep deprivation and not getting restful sleep because you snore loud.
We have researched information about snoring that will help ease out your worries and guide you with all the right information that you need to know.
So, let’s go ahead and learn if snoring is harmless or if you should consider consulting your doctor.
What is Snoring
Snoring is the hoarse sound coming from the vibration created by a passing airflow in your throat’s relaxed tissues.
You might have asked questions like does everyone snore or what percentage of people snore.
Not everyone snores but a good percentage of people do snore. For adults, the percentage of people who regularly snore is estimated to be around 25% while 45% of adults snore occasionally.
Why Do People Snore?
Snoring is often considered normal and is usually not a cause for concern. However, in some cases, snoring can be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder like sleep apnea.
So, why do you snore, and is snoring unhealthy? Snoring can happen because of either the following:
Poor Muscle Tone in the Tongue and Throat
When we sleep, our muscles in the tongue and throat relax naturally. But these muscles sometimes relaxed way too much that the tongue falls back into the airway or throat muscles draw in from the sides obstructing the airway.
As we age, our muscle tone diminishes that’s why loud snoring can often be heard from old people.
Bulky Throat Tissue
Bulky throat tissue can also be one of the reasons for snoring. Men often have bulkier throat tissue, and this can cause the airway to narrow down, and as a result, you snore.
Weight gain can also increase the bulk of throat tissue as overweight people have extra-soft tissue on the neck that can cause the airway to narrow.
Long Soft Palate and Uvula
A long soft palate is a fleshy tissue hanging from the roof of your mouth towards the back. The uvula is an extension of the soft palate hanging down in the back of your throat.
Both these can block the airflow and result in snoring.
The narrowing or blockage of nasal passages can also contribute to snoring. Nasal congestion happens when you have an illness related to the nose and throat like a cold, infection that results in enlarged tonsils, allergies, or a sore throat.
Aside from chronic nasal congestion, a deviated nasal septum can also cause snoring. A deviated septum is a deformity causing one nasal passage to be smaller than the other that resulting in obstruction to the nasal passages.
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)
Another possible cause of snoring is UARS. This condition occurs as the throat muscles relax and airways become narrowed because fatty or loose tissues in your throat collapse.
UARS can also happen when your tongue falls back and blocks your throat.
Unlike sleep apnea, with UARS you don’t stop breathing, and if you do have pauses in breathing it’s normally mild.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that can cause snoring at night. OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep and collapse partially or completely into the airway, obstructing it.
OSA is characterized by pauses in breathing or very shallow breaths while you are asleep.
These pauses in breathing can last from seconds to minutes, and they often happen 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again with a loud snore or a choking or gasping sound.
The obstruction of airflow caused by sleep apnea can reduce the oxygen levels in your blood which can cause loud snoring.
Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is often used as a treatment for OSA.
Is Snoring Dangerous?
Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea and UARS can result in several health risks, including death and it is necessary to be wary of symptoms.
Sleep apnea and UARS sleep disorder almost have similar symptoms as follows:
- Morning headaches
- Restless Sleep
- Difficulty in falling asleep
- Waking up with a dry mouth or throat
- Daytime Sleepiness
UARS can progress to obstructive sleep apnea sleep disorder poses several dangerous health concerns as follows:
- High blood pressure – Drops in oxygen blood levels can cause high blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes – Sleep apnea results in a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance
- Cardiovascular disease or heart conditions – OSA can also increase the occurrence of a heart attack and abnormal heartbeats
- Liver Problems – Sleep apnea can result in abnormal liver function test
Can Snoring be Treated?
From the inconvenience of your partner or family member not getting enough sleep to the health problems snoring poses, you might be looking for ways to stop snoring.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that there are many things you can do to help reduce or stop snoring.
The following are some tips and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce snoring:
Change in Sleeping Position
Sleeping on your side can help keep your tongue and soft palate from blocking the back of your throat.
Use a Nasal Dilator
If you have a cold or allergies, a nasal dilator can help by keeping your airway open while you sleep.
Wear an Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece
One of the oral appliances that you can use to prevent snoring and the accompanying snoring sounds is an anti-snoring mouthpiece.
An anti-snoring mouthpiece can be purchased over the counter and they usually come in two types:
- Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) – Mouthguards for minor jaw realignment
- Tongue retaining device or tongue stabilizing device (TRD or TSD) – Holds the tongue in place to keep it from falling to the back of your throat
Reduce Body Weight
Mouth exercises that involve moving your tongue and mouth can strengthen muscles in the throat, tongue, and soft palate.
Avoid Alcohol and Quit Smoking
Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes can worsen snoring by relaxing the throat muscles.
When it comes to surgery options you need to talk to your head and neck surgery specialist about what best surgery you can have. Sample of the surgeries are Tonsillectomy or the removal of tonsils that can obstruct airflow and Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) which also removes tonsils but with incisions to the small palate to prevent interference to the airflow.
Snoring can be normal but can also be a symptom of a more serious health condition. If you are concerned about your snoring, it is always best to talk to your doctor.