Is snoring affecting your sleep?

It is a rarely known fact that almost half of the people of the world snores. Around 45% snore occasionally, and about 25% of them are chronic snorers. It's not just a nuisance, snoring may also indicate an underlying health problem. Recent studies have made connections between snoring and sleep apnea and other ailments such as high blood pressure, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type II diabetes, and premature death.

The sound called snoring comes from the air passages in a person's throat and is due to an obstruction to the free flow of air. This obstruction or blockage causes the soft tissues in the throat to vibrate. The snore sound is actually the vibration of these soft tissues. There are a number of causes of adult snoring: thick soft palate, poor muscle tone, stuffy nasal passages, excessive bulk of throat tissue, a deviated septum in the nose, and enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

The effects of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea

Adult snoring is a symptom of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. When a person is suffering from sleep apnea, he or she stops breathing for a minimum of 10-30 seconds. This cessation in respiration occurs several times during the night and often results in sleep and oxygen deprivation. Both sleep deprivation and oxygen produces adverse effects on the body. The sleep apnea sufferer often feels tired and fatigued throughout the day. This often results in irritability, poor mental health such as depression, decreased productivity, and an impairment in the person's immune system.

Women who snore while pregnant are also in a risk of impairing their unborn baby's growth. Scientific studies have shown that women who suffered from snoring while pregnant gave birth to babies with lower birth weight and problems with breathing heart rate, and reflexes.

What can a snorer do?

There are several non-medical things a snorer can do to help reduce or eliminate occasional snoring. Lose weight, regular exercise, and antihistamines may relieve mild cases of snoring. Things that relax the neck muscles will also help. The relaxed neck muscles cause the soft tissues to collapse, thus preventing them from vibrating. Other tips that work include sleeping on one's side, and elevating one's body about 4 inches, from the waist up.

More serious cases of snoring -- chronic snoring for example -- need a medical examination to find the underlying cause of the snoring. There are a number of different medical treatments for chronic snoring such as orthodontic appliances (think mouthguards) to machines called CPAPs (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines), and to the more complex Laser-Assisted Uvula Palatoplasty (LAUP), where the uvula is reduced in size.

The CPAP machine pushes air into the person who suffers from snoring to eliminate obstructions in the person's airways. These machines help many adult snoring sufferers, but it is not for everyone. The LAUP procedure is not widely used as of yet but is considered an alternative by doctors for cases of mild obstructive sleep apnea that are not treated using CPAP.

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