Snoring: its causes and treatment
None of us are unacquainted with snoring – it is nothing new neither unheard of. The culprit could be a friend, a family member or even us. What is more vexing is that the snorer is usually oblivious of his or her snoring due to the simple reason that he or she can’t hear it in his or her sleep. Many times the snorer will imply deny snoring because of the alleged societal stigma associated with snoring (Young, 1991). The loudness of snoring may reach 100 decibels and may damage hearing when exposed to for a prolonged period (Tuck.Com, 2018).
We make fun of snoring, feel annoyed if the bed partner does it or embarrassed if we do it. But how many of us actually pay attention to its causes or even think that it is worth taking a look into? It could be a menace for the person sleeping next to the snorer – but health hazard? We think not. But it is true. In certain cases, it can most definitely become a cause for some serious health issues or an indication of something going seriously wrong with the body such as cardiovascular ailment (Alessandro, et al., 1990). Let’s take a deeper look at what snoring is and what are its causes. What many of us don’t understand is that snoring can be a sign of a serious ailment. Most of the times and in most of the homes, snoring is taken very lightly. This should not be the case, neither one should be embarrassed about it. Snoring should be discussed amongst the family members and one should reach a health practitioner to understand the causes and its treatment.
A familiar yet treatable (Davis, 2018) sleep disorder, snoring is more commonly noticeable in middle-aged and older folks. Though not always harmful, snoring can sometimes result in a serious health problem known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) (Kaur, et al., 2015). A very small percentage of children also snore (Gursanscky, et al., 2017). Almost everyone snores sometime or the other, although for certain individuals snoring can actually turn into a chronic difficulty (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017). So if someone is snoring in your family, you need to take it seriously and consult a doctor especially a doctor who is an expert in treating respiratory diseases.
We might wonder what causes this disturbing, more often than not loud and harsh noise that one makes while sleeping. The noise is caused by tissue vibration (Davis, 2018) resulting from the increase in the obstruction in airflow in the upper region of the respiratory tract (Kaur, et al., 2015). There may be one or more of the following factors at play behind snoring – nasal congestion, abnormalities of the structure of the nose, gender, smoking and/ or drinking, obesity, age, pregnancy, medications, certain genetic factors, allergies, etc (Sleep Education, n.d.; O Resta, et al., 2001).
Snoring is more common among men than among women (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017). The heavier you are the more likely it is for you to snore (WebMD, 2018). For some, it runs in the family. Some people are habitual snorers.
Nasal obstruction is one of the most heard about the causes of snoring. The obstruction could be the result of a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps or simply allergy that causes sinus infection especially during particular seasons such as monsoon or winter (WebMD, 2018) that result in congestion of the nasal cavity causing obstruction of the airflow. Swelling of tonsil could also be the reason behind snoring (Tuck.Com, 2018).
Presence of superfluous tissue in the throat has been seen to vibrate while a person breathes in sleep resulting in the loud noise that we call snoring. This phenomenon is more common in people who are obese or overweight and also in pregnant women who frequently have bulky tissues in the throat (Sleep Education, n.d.). Anatomy of the mouth can also be responsible for snoring (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017). A uvula that is long or a soft and elongated palate causes narrowing of the opening that leads from the nose to the throat (WebMD, 2018). The vibration of these muscles can obstruct the air passage causing the loud noise called snoring (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017).
Another common cause of snoring is bad sleeping posture. Snoring is particularly less or even absent when a person sleeps on his side or on his stomach that when he sleeps on his back (National Sleep Foundation, 2019).
Consumption of alcohol especially before going to bed can also lead to snoring (Tuck.Com, 2018). Consumption of alcohol and muscle relaxants that leads to the relaxing of muscles in the throat or the tongue muscle cause snoring (Sleep Education, n.d.). Snoring can also be the result of side effects of certain medicines such as sleeping pills (Tuck.Com, 2018).
Snoring is disturbing for the bed partner but more importantly, it could be pointing towards some serious health problems. So one should not feel embarrassed about it or try to hide it, as it can worsen the problem. One should rather accept it a problem and seek consultations from a health practitioner. Snoring may be related to some minor issues but in some cases, it can also be an indication of a serious problem. Rather than ignoring or denying it please get yourself checked if you have a chronic snoring problem.