Snoring is the harsh sound your throat makes when you are sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic sleeping disorder associated with snoring. This is where breathing is stopped for longer than 10 seconds for at least 5 times an hour throughout sleeping. OSA leads to a lack of oxygen and may also awaken the person from sleep with a gasping or choking sound. Risk factors for OSA include: being male, overweight, alcohol consumption, nasal problems, and a family history of snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. Complications include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Frustration or anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart conditions and stroke
- Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
- Increased risk of behavior problems in children
The first line of treatment for snoring is lifestyle changes. First, it is recommended to lose weight if you are overweight as excess tissues in the throat can cause snoring. Side sleeping and raising the head of the bed can also reduce snoring as they allow for more space for airflow in the throat. Using nasal strips, external nasal dilators and treating nasal congestion will allow for better nasal passageways. Lastly, avoid sleep deprivation, smoking and alcohol close to bedtime.
Devices can also be used to treat OSA and snoring. Oral appliances can help position the structures in your mouth to keep the airways open. However, a dental specialist is needed, and side effects can include excess salivation, dry mouth and jaw discomfort. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is often prescribed for OSA. This requires wearing a mask while sleeping so pressurized air can be administered through a bedside pump. Below is an image of someone on a CPAP machine.
Another option is surgery to open the airway. Surgery can fix a deviated septum or shrink or remove excess tissue around the soft palate or throat. Hypoglossal nerve stimulation is a newer technique that can control the tongue from blocking the airway. However, the results of these surgeries can vary from person to person.
- Snoring and OSA: Snoring, a harsh sound during sleep, is linked to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition where breathing stops for over 10 seconds multiple times per hour.
- Risk Factors and Complications: OSA risk factors include being male, overweight, alcohol use, nasal problems, and family history. Complications involve daytime sleepiness, frustration, difficulty concentrating, and increased risks of health issues.
- Lifestyle Changes: To reduce snoring, consider weight loss, side sleeping, elevating the head of the bed, using nasal strips, and addressing nasal congestion. Avoiding sleep deprivation, smoking, and alcohol close to bedtime is crucial.
- Treatment Devices: Oral appliances from a dental specialist, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, and surgery are options. Surgery can address structural issues, and newer techniques like hypoglossal nerve stimulation control tongue position.
This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.
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