Snoring is quite common, and it can affect you in many negative ways, from interrupting your sleep to serving as an indication of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder.
What is snoring?
Snoring is the sound that’s produced when the flow of air passes through relaxed tissues in the throat, causing them to vibrate. When you hear someone snoring, it’s the sound produced by this vibration.
What causes snoring?
Snoring is usually caused when the flow of air through your mouth and nose is obstructed in some way. The following are some common causes of this obstruction:
- A cold
- Mouth anatomy – such as having a low, thick soft palate or uvula (the triangle of tissue hanging from the back of your mouth)
- Nasal anatomy and problems – such as chronic sinus infections, a deviated septum (which occurs when the partition between your nostrils is crooked or severely off-center), nasal polpys (non-cancerous growths), enlarged turbinates (ridges of tissue on the side wall of the inside of the nose) and enlarged adenoids (a mass of tissue at the back of the throat)
- Sleep position – sleeping on your back further narrows your airway
- Excess weight – especially excess weight around your neck, since this can narrow your airway
- Alcohol consumption – drinking too much alcohol before bedtime relaxes your throat muscles and decreases your natural defenses against airway obstruction
- Sleep deprivation – can cause further throat relaxation
Can it go away on its own?
If your snoring is caused by a temporary condition – such as a cold – it could go away on its own. However, chronic snoring is usually caused by a longer-term obstruction, and your snoring won’t go away until the problem is resolved.
Are there non-surgical treatments?
Your doctor will suggest non-surgical treatments as a first step. They may include one or more of the following:
- Losing weight if you need to
- Changing your sleeping position – sleeping on your side and/or raising the head of your bed
- Avoiding alcohol a few hours before bedtime
- Using targeted exercise to improve the muscle tone of your airway
- Treating allergies with nasal steroids or medication such as Nasonex or Flonase
- Using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine – using a low, steady stream of air to keep your airway open and prevent its collapse
- Using an oral appliance – a custom-made plastic device similar to a mouth guard. It’s worn only at night and helps coax your tongue and/or jaw gently forward to help keep your airway open.
What treatment do doctors recommend for snorers?
Your doctor will probably first try non-surgical measures to stop you from snoring. In some cases, lifestyle changes and non-invasive therapies such as medication, CPAP, or an oral appliance may provide enough relief. If they’re not successful and your snoring is caused by a structural abnormality, surgery may be needed to correct it. For example, if you have a deviated septum, it can be corrected with a septoplasty.
If you snore, it can greatly affect the quality of your life as well as your overall health and well-being. Make an appointment today with New York ENT. Our board-certified sleep specialists are dedicated to finding the most effective and least invasive treatment for your snoring, helping you get the quiet, restorative sleep you need.