Common Snoring Symptoms and Treatment Options

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The National Sleep Foundation defines snoring as “noisy breathing during sleep.” Snoring is a prevalent problem among people of all ages and it affects both genders. In the United States alone, the condition affects around 90 million people.

Snoring can occur every night. However, it can also occur intermittently. The condition may also cause serious disruptions to the patient’s sleep (and that of their bed partners). In most cases, snoring can also result to unrefreshing and fragmented sleep and often translates into poor function during daytime (sleepiness and tiredness).

Just like there are several ways on how to stop snoring, there are also plenty of factors that help facilitate the development of the condition. For instance, the normal ageing process can result in the relaxation of the throat muscles and may lead to snoring.

Anatomical abnormalities of the throat and nose (i.e. nasal polyps, deviated nasal septum, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, etc.) can also lead to exaggerated narrowing of the throat during sleep and may result to snoring.

Functional abnormalities like inflammation of the throat or nose during allergy season or  a respiratory infection may also result to snoring. In addition, sleep position (i.e. sleeping on your back) may also lead to snoring.

 

Symptoms

Individuals who snore make a rattling, vibrating, and noisy sound during sleep. This may also be a symptom of sleep apnea. If you snore heavily and exhibit the following symptoms, consider it best to visit your doctor immediately:

  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Recent weight gain
  • Morning headaches
  • Waking up in the morning and not feeling rested
  • Waking up at night and feeling confused
  • Significant change in the level of attention, memory, or concentration
  • Obvious breathing pauses during sleep

 

Treatment

In general, people who snore are not aware they do so and are often dependent on the observations of their bed partners. For people whose snoring is excessive enough to disturb others or for those who also manifest some of the symptoms mentioned above, consulting a doctor is highly recommended.

Typically, the doctor will take into account the patient’s medical history and will perform a physical examination to gauge if a consultation with a sleep specialist or a sleep test may be necessary.

Based on the results of the sleep study, patients are often presented with several options on how to stop snoring. Some of the treatment options can include:

 

Lifestyle modification

Lifestyle modification can include avoidance of risk factors, sleep position training (when applicable), treatment of allergies (when applicable), etc.

 

Surgery

Surgery to stop snoring is often done on the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat. When applicable, it can also be done on the nose. A variety of instruments like laser, scalpel, and microwaves may be used.

 

Appliances

Oral appliances created by dentists like nasal dilators may also be used to treat snoring.

 

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD)

Continuous Open Airway Therapy

Considered an effective treatment option for sleep apnea, this device is only worn by the patient during sleep. This oral appliance fits just like an orthodontic retainer or a sports mouth guard.

Tongue Retaining Devices

Tongue retainers are also used to treat patients with sleep apnea. In essence, a tongue retailer is a splint that works by holding the tongue forward so it won’t fall backwards into the throat when the muscles relax during sleep.

 

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

A continuous positive airway pressure appliance (CPAP) may also be used to stop snoring. A continuous positive airway pressure appliance works by blowing room air into the back of the throat to prevent it from collapsing.

A continuous positive airway pressure appliance is also considered the treatment of choice for people with sleep apnea. People who are diagnosed with sleep apnea are often advised to pursue treatment aggressively. Left unattended, sleep apnea can put patients at risk for vascular disease.

Dr. Gerald Tan
drgeraldtan@gmail.com


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