How to Stop Snoring

The act of snoring, also called snoring, is extremely common and affects about 40% of the population on a recurring basis. Snoring arises every time that breathing during sleep is partially clogged, causing the passage of air through the airway causes vibrations in the tissues around.

Stop snoring device
Stop snoring device

Snoring therefore can arise sporadically in anyone who has some degree of temporary obstruction of the airways, such as for a respiratory viral infection or allergic rhinitis above. When snoring is intense, and frequently is associated with poor sleep quality, it can be a signal other diseases, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
In this article we will discuss snoring, highlighting the causes and characteristics that may suggest the presence of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. We will also talk about treatment options to make a person stop snoring.

What is snoring

As mentioned in the introduction of the article, snoring appears whenever there is some degree of obstruction in the respiratory tract, causing the tissue around it vibrate due to increased resistance to air flow. The soft palate, which is part of the "palate" softer and close the throat is generally the area which produces the typical sound of snoring. As a rule, snoring appears during inspiration, but can also be caused during expiration.

During sleep, the muscles of the tongue and around the oropharynx usually more relaxed and tends to "fall", reducing the airway caliber and obstructing the passage of air. In most people, this relaxation is not enough to cause significant obstructions, however, in patients already with some degree of obstruction of the upper airway is enough to cause snoring.

When the increased resistance to air flow is small, the patient has a light snoring, intermittent and sleep quality is not usually affected. The individual sleeps and feels restored to wake up in the morning. As the resistance to air flow increases, the intensity and frequency of snoring also tower, and sleep quality may be affected.

So that the ventilation keep adequate, an individual with some degree of airway obstruction need to increase the respiratory effort in order to overcome this resistance. This increase in the diaphragm and respiratory muscles effort is made involuntarily, since the patient is sleeping. In some cases, however, the obstruction becomes so significant that the brain needs to wake up the individual so that he can return to breathe properly. These periods of apnea (breathing interruption) are a sign of seriousness and characterize the syndrome of obstructive sleep apnea.

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea

Snoring is a typical symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but not everyone who snores necessarily have this syndrome.

Besides snoring, obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by periods of interruption of breathing that can last from 10 seconds to more than 1 minute, and by severe daytime sleepiness, as frequent episodes of airway obstruction prevent the patient has a restorative sleep at night.

Even if the patient snore intensely and for most of the night, for it to be diagnosed with OSA, he must also submit periods of night apnea and must often be tired and sleepy during the day, which is a sign poor quality of sleep the night before.

Obstructive sleep apnea is therefore only one of the possible causes of snoring during sleep. As one of the most serious causes, it must always be ruled out, but it is not the primary diagnosis in most cases, especially if the person is lean and only mild snoring and short-term overnight.

Why we snore?

Many factors, such as changes in the anatomy of the airways and sinuses, alcohol or tobacco, allergies, respiratory infections etc., may cause a person to snore. However, the age and overweight seem to be the most common risk factors for snoring. Men also tend to snore more than women.

Snoring can affect children, adults and seniors, but it is far more common in the latter group. As we age, the tissues of the throat and tongue tend to become loose, increasing the degree of relaxation of the same during sleep. Therefore, airway obstruction while we sleep are easier to occur after 40 years.

Besides age, another determining factor is overweight. Studies show that an increase of only 10% in weight increases by 6 times the patient's risk of developing respiratory disorders during sleep. In addition, about two-thirds of patients with obstructive sleep apnea are at least 20% above their ideal body weight.

Excess weight is usually related to an accumulation of fat around the neck and a decrease in muscle tone in this region. Both cases favor airway obstruction during sleep.

Other risk factors for the onset of snoring are:
  • Smoking.
  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Drugs the muscle relaxant type, sedating antihistamines (allergy) or anxiolytics (tranquilizers).
  • Family history of snoring.
  • Male.
  • Sleeping on his back.
  • Sleeping with a very large or soft pillow.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Rhinitis.
  • Sinusitis.
  • Respiratory viruses.
  • Septal deviation.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Hypertrophied adenoids (common cause of snoring in children).
  • Hypertrophied tonsils.
  • Abnormalities of the soft palate or the uvula.
  • Having a short and wide neck, with a circumference greater than 43 cm.
  • Untreated hypothyroidism.

Diagnosis of snoring

The person who snores does not usually have knowledge of your snoring, unless someone to sleep in the same house or bed to tell you. On the other hand, people who sleep in the same household do not usually have no doubt that there is a snorer among them, after all, it does not take much brilliance to know if someone snores.

The question therefore is not whether someone snore or not, but rather to identify when the snoring is a sign of more serious respiratory problems such as obstructive sleep apnea.

If the individual is overweight, snore too loud, presents episodes of interrupted breathing or choking during sleep, and the next day is always tired and sleepy, the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea should be considered. In these cases, patients should be evaluated with a polysomnography, which is usually performed in specialized centers for treatment of sleep disorders.

Can you stop snoring?

Yes, you can stop snoring. But this requires that the causes of snoring are well defined. In some cases, the solution is simple: lose weight, practice aerobics, cutting smoking, moderate alcohol consumption and drugs with sedative effect, etc. Take a revised risk factors listed above, it is possible to find several reversible risk factors for snoring.

Weight loss for those with a BMI above 25 kg / m² is one of the most important attitudes. A study conducted at the University of Florida with severe snoring showed that the loss of only 3 kg was able to reduce the number of snores per hour from 320 to 176. In patients who had lost at least 7 kg, the number of snores per hour fell to 14 only.

In some cases, however, the solution is not so simple. Some patients with rhinitis or chronic sinusitis need to follow up with ENT physician. If there is no success in clearing the nasal passages hardly leaves the patient snoring.

A similar situation have those who have deviated nasal septum. In these, the surgical correction of anatomic defect is often the only option with significant therapeutic effect.

The dentist can also help in some circumstances, indicating the use of a dental appliance, which helps adjust the position of the tongue or soft palate during sleep, thereby reducing the occurrence of obstructions.

In patients with intractable and intense snoring, CPAP (which stands for continuous positive airway pressure) is an option that should be taken into account. CPAP is a treatment consisting in the use of a ventilator machine, providing air under pressure through a mask must be attached to the patient before bedtime. The CPAP reduces the number of respiratory events in the evening, reduced daytime sleepiness and improves the quality of life of the patient. This is the best treatment for patients with OSAS.
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