Snoring. As you breathe, air passes in and out of your lungs through your mouth, nose, and throat.

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1 Snoring Introduction Snoring is the harsh sound that is made when the flow of air through your mouth and nose is blocked while you are sleeping. Snoring can be an annoyance for your partner or other people living with you. Sometimes snoring may be a sign of a serious health condition. This reference summary helps you understand snoring. It includes information about the symptoms, causes, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment of snoring. Snoring Snoring is the harsh sound that is made when the flow of air through your mouth and nose is blocked while you are sleeping. Almost half of all adults snore at least some of the time. As you breathe, air passes in and out of your lungs through your mouth, nose, and throat. Your throat muscles may relax as you sleep. This causes tissue to dangle or collapse in the throat, partially blocking the airway. You snore when the flow of air through the nose or mouth is partially blocked. The sound is caused by tissues at the top of your airway that strike each other and vibrate. Snoring can be an annoyance for your partner or other people living with you. Sometimes snoring may be a sign of a serious health condition. Airway 1

2 Snoring can also prevent you from getting enough quality sleep. This can result in: Being tired during the daytime Problems in your relationships Trouble concentrating Depending on the cause, people who snore may also be at a greater risk for: Heart failure High blood pressure Motor vehicle accidents caused by lack of sleep Stroke Children who snore may also be at risk for behavioral problems. This is especially true if the cause of snoring is obstructive sleep apnea. Children who snore take in less oxygen during sleep time. Less oxygen to the brain may result in hyperactivity, inattention, and poor impulse control. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing for periods of more than 10 seconds at a time while asleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage in the airway during sleep. Symptoms The symptoms of snoring depend on what is causing you to snore. This section includes some of the most common symptoms of snoring. People who snore may experience the following symptoms at night: Shortness of breath when trying to sleep Restless sleep, or tossing and turning 2

3 Snoring can also cause daytime symptoms, including: Difficulty concentrating on a task Feeling tired or weary High blood pressure Irregular heartbeats Sore throat Half of all adults snore at least some of the time. You should see a healthcare provider about your snoring if you wake up choking or gasping for air. This may suggest that your snoring is part of a more serious condition. Causes There are many factors that can lead to snoring. This section provides information about some of the conditions that affect the airway and cause people to snore. The anatomy of your mouth can cause you to snore. Some people have thick tissue or tissue that hangs lower near the back of their mouth. This may cause the airway to be narrow, which can cause snoring. Enlarged tonsils or tissues in the back of your throat, known as adenoids, may also cause a narrower airway. An elongated uvula, which is the flap of tissue that hangs down at the back of your mouth, can also block part of the airway. Both of these can cause snoring. Uvula Adenoids Mouth Snoring may also be caused by your physical health. Being overweight may cause people to snore. The extra weight can build up in the throat and cause the airway to become narrower. Snoring may also be caused by nasal problems. A deviated nasal septum, which is a crooked dividing wall between your nostrils, may cause you to snore. Ongoing nasal congestion could also result in snoring. 3

4 Drinking alcohol may cause snoring. Drinking too much alcohol before bedtime can cause the muscles in the throat to relax. This decreases the body s ability to control airflow. Snoring may also have a more serious cause: obstructive sleep apnea. This is a serious condition in which throat tissues obstruct the airway and prevent breathing. Sleep apnea often involves episodes of loud snoring followed by periods of silence when your breathing stops or almost stops. Sleep apnea does not always cause you to stop breathing, but it may cause your airway to become so narrow that you do not get enough oxygen. If your body doesn t get enough oxygen, it signals you to wake up by forcing your airway to open. This usually results in a loud gasping sound. If you believe that you have obstructive sleep apnea, talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms. A sleep study is usually required to diagnose sleep apnea. Diagnosis When you see a healthcare provider about your snoring, he or she will perform a physical examination and take your medical history. Your partner may need to answer some questions about your snoring, such as when and how you snore. This helps the healthcare provider assess how severe your snoring is. Your healthcare provider may request an imaging test to check your airway for problems. An imaging test could be an x-ray, a CT scan, or an MRI. CT stands for computerized tomography. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It is a procedure in which radio waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer are used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body. Your healthcare provider may request a sleep study depending on the severity of your symptoms. A sleep study usually requires you to spend the night at a sleep center. 4

5 During your stay, your sleeping habits will receive an in-depth analysis from a team of specialists. During a sleep study, sensors are placed on your head and other parts of your body. These sensors allow the team of specialists to record your brain waves, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level. They also record information about your eye and leg movements while you sleep. Sleep Study Risk Factors Certain factors increase the chances that a person will snore. These are known as risk factors. The following section lists the risk factors associated with snoring. Certain problems of the nose, mouth, or throat could increase your risk of snoring. These problems include: An elongated and enlarged soft palate Deviated septum Enlarged tonsils or adenoids Narrow airway Ongoing nasal stuffiness or congestion The soft palate is the muscular part of the roof of the mouth. It closes off the nasal cavity from the oral cavity when you suck or swallow. Certain lifestyle choices and health issues can increase your risk of snoring, including: Being overweight Drinking alcohol Sleeping on your back Being a man is also a risk factor for snoring. Men are more likely to snore than women. Men are also more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than women. 5

6 Treatment Snoring is usually first treated by making changes to your lifestyle. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you lose weight, stop drinking alcohol before bedtime, or change your sleeping position. Your healthcare provider may suggest other treatments if lifestyle changes do not stop you from snoring. Your healthcare provider may suggest using an oral appliance. An oral appliance is a form-fitting mouthpiece that helps position your tongue and soft palate to keep your airway open. You will need to see a dentist to be fitted for the device. A continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP, may be needed to treat your snoring. This treatment requires you to wear a pressurized mask over your nose whenever you sleep. Attached to the mask is a small pump that forces air into your airway. A CPAP machine will help you stop snoring. It also prevents sleep apnea. It is the preferred method of treating sleep apnea because it is very effective. However, some people find the CPAP uncomfortable and have difficulty getting used to the noise the machine makes. CPAP Palatal implants are another treatment used for snoring. This procedure involves injecting braided strands of polyester filament into your soft palate. This causes your soft palate to stiffen, which reduces snoring. There are no known side effects from palatal implants, but the strands will occasionally come out on their own. Your healthcare provider might recommend a surgical procedure known as an uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP. During a UPPP, your surgeon tightens and trims any excess tissue from your airway. Radiofrequency tissue ablation, or somnoplasty, is another treatment method for snoring. During this procedure, a surgeon uses a low-intensity radiofrequency signal to remove some of your soft palate to ease your snoring. 6

7 Preventing Snoring There are some ways to prevent or quiet your snoring without seeking medical attention. The following section includes some lifestyle changes that may help prevent snoring. A natural way to ease your snoring is to sleep on your side. When you lay on your back, your tongue falls backward into your throat. This narrows your airway and obstructs airflow. Sleeping on your side will allow your airway to stay open and prevent you from snoring. Another way to prevent your tongue from falling backward into your throat during sleep is to raise your bed. You might try raising the head of your bed by four inches using wood blocks or some other sturdy material. If you are overweight, losing weight may help decrease snoring. Being overweight causes snoring because your throat has extra bulkiness that narrows your airway. Nasal strips could help reduce your snoring. Nasal strips are adhesive strips that you apply to your nose. They help many people increase the area of their nasal passage, which improves their breathing. These strips are only effective in treating snoring and will not help with sleep apnea. Limiting alcohol or sedatives can also decrease your snoring. You should not drink alcohol for at least two hours before going to bed. Alcohol and sedatives cause your muscles to relax, which may cause the tissue in your throat to become more obstructive. If you have nasal congestion or an obstruction, you might be able to prevent snoring by treating these conditions. Congestion may be treated with medication. A deviated septum or other obstruction may be corrected with surgery. Talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options for these and other problems. 7

8 Summary Snoring is the harsh sound that is created when the flow of air through your mouth and nose is blocked while you are sleeping. Snoring may indicate a serious health condition and can be an annoyance to your partner. Certain lifestyle changes can help you stop snoring. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you lose weight, stop drinking alcohol before bedtime, or change your sleeping position. Some medical devices and surgical procedures are also available to help reduce your snoring. However, these devices may not be beneficial for everyone who snores. If snoring causes you or your partner to lose sleep, talk to a healthcare provider. You may be able to decrease your snoring or stop snoring altogether. A good night s sleep is possible! 8

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