Almost 50 percent of American adults snore and 25 percent are problem snorers. If you awake in the morning feeling tired or exhausted, if you experience daytime drowsiness, or if your snoring is proving disruptive to family life, you have reason enough for concern.
Problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight persons, and it usually grows worse with age. Snoring is an indication of obstructed breathing. Therefore it should not be taken lightly. An otolaryngologist can help you to determine where the encumbrance may be and offer solutions for this noisy, health threatening, and often embarrassing behavior. Studies have shown that problem snoring can prove symptomatic of a more serious medical condition.
Risks of Untreated Snoring
Left untreated, problem snoring significantly increases the risk of many life-threatening medical conditions and social problems including:
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure in 50-70% of sufferers
- Heart attacks: 25% increased risk
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Heart failure
- Strokes: 2-3 times increased risk
Snoring in Kids
Children also suffer the effects of snoring. In children, snoring may be a sign of problems with the tonsils and adenoids.
A chronically snoring child should be examined by an otolaryngologist, as a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be required to return the child to full health.
What Causes Snoring?
When you sleep, your tongue, throat muscles and soft palate relax. If they relax too much, they can droop backward and block the airway, vibrating together when you breathe. This causes the telltale noisy sounds associated with snoring. The more the airway is obstructed, the louder the snoring will be.
There are several factors that increase the odds you will snore. People with bulky throat tissue or an enlarged soft palate are more at risk for snoring, as are those who experience frequent nasal congestion, have a deviated septum, nasal polyps, enlarged tonsils or adenoids as well as those who drink alcohol before bedtime.
The typical snorer is overweight, male and over the age of 40. Snoring tends to worsen with age. In some individuals, the airway becomes so obstructed that breathing is interrupted; this leads to a serious medical condition known as sleep apnea.
Tips for Quieting Your Snoring
If your snoring isn’t a complication of sleep apnea, implementing lifestyle changes may help eliminate the problem. Useful tips include:
- Sleeping on your side instead of your back.
- Losing weight.
- Avoiding alcohol before bedtime.
- Treating allergies.
- Eliminating tobacco smoke.
If lifestyle modifications do not solve the problem, oral appliances that reposition the lower jaw may help. Another alternative is nasal breathing strips. Some individuals might benefit from surgical techniques such as:
- Pillar Procedure. Polyester filament is injected into the soft palate to stiffen it and reduce snoring.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Excess throat tissue is surgically removed to enlarge the airway. This may include the uvula, soft palate, tonsils, adenoids and/or pharynx.
- Laser Surgery. Lasers are used to remove the uvula and excess tissue from the soft palate.
- Somnoplasty. Also known as radiofrequency tissue ablation, this procedure uses radio signals to shrink the tissue of the soft palate.
Call Sound Health Services for more information or to schedule an appointment.