Snoring is a symptom that affects nearly half the adult population. It is the hoarse or harsh sound that occurs during sleep. When air flows past the relaxed tissue in your throat the tissue vibrates and causes the snoring sound.
Snoring can be caused by a number of factors. While you are falling asleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth and throat relax. If they relax enough they can actually block your airways and vibrate with each breath. The narrower your airways become, the more forceful your breath needs to be to get through. This causes the vibration to increase, which makes your snoring even louder.
The mouth’s anatomy plays a large role in snoring. Those who are overweight often have extra tissue in the back of their throats. Alcohol consumption can cause snoring since it relaxes the throat muscles. Nasal problems, such as congestion or a deviated septum, can also contribute to snoring.
Snoring may also be a sign of a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, your throat tissues partially or completely block your airway, which prevents you from breathing. Loud snoring followed by periods of silence are common symptoms of sleep apnea.
In addition to creating noise during sleep, snoring can lead to additional symptoms such as:
- Daytime sleepiness.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Sore throat.
- Gasping or choking at night.
- High blood pressure.
In order to rule out obstructive sleep apnea as a possible cause, you should see your doctor at the first sign of these symptoms.
To make a diagnosis your doctor will review your medical history and complete a physical exam. An x-ray or CT scan may be needed to get an inside look at your airways. Those with severe symptoms may need to participate in a sleep study. These studies can be completed in a clinic or in the comfort of your own home.
The treatment for your snoring depends on how severe your symptoms are. Many can benefit from simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and treating nasal congestion. If your snoring is caused by obstructive sleep apnea, there are a variety of treatments such as an oral appliance, CPAP or surgery. An oral appliance is a dental mouthpiece that can help keep your jaw, tongue and soft palate in line to keep your airway open. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a pressurized mask that is worn while you sleep. Air is forced through your airway to keep your airway open. Surgery may be needed in the most severe cases.
If you or someone you care for is snoring, please contact our office at 717-728-9700 to schedule an appointment.