Is your snoring affecting your health?

A blog by Dr. Seejo George

What Is Snoring?

Most of us can agree that snoring is not a foreign concept. Simply put, snoring is “noisy breathing” while you sleep. It’s a common condition that can affect anyone, although it happens more often in men and in people who are overweight, and it also tends to get worse with age. 

The Different Types of Snoring:

Nose-based Snoring

This type of snoring is due to a blockage in the nostrils, often from a deviated septum or some sort of physical obstruction. Other likely causes for this type of snoring may include pet and dust allergies, nasal stuffiness, a cold or using certain types of medication.

Nasal snoring can be treated in several ways depending on what causes it:

  • Treating a deviated septum surgically
  • If a dust allergy triggers your snoring, be sure your bedroom is as clean and dust-free as possible
  • Quitting smoking
  • Using nasal dilator strips or a nasal rinse (especially when you have a cold or have a stuffy nose)

Mouth-based Snoring

Mouth-based snoring is simply the process of inhaling air through the mouth instead of the nose while sleeping. If you can’t breathe via your nose at night due to blockage, it causes you to breathe through the mouth, resulting in a vibration of the tissues and thus; snoring. Blocked nasal passages, enlarged tonsils, or weak palatal tissue may also be the causes of close-mouthed snoring.

An important note is that breathing through the mouth can lead to infections as the nose is not filtering the air passing through.

In order to avoid snoring through the mouth, one can use devices such as adhesive tape specially designed for this purpose or mouth guards that can help you keep your mouth closed.

Tongue-based Snoring

This occurs because the tongue gets too relaxed, mainly when we lie down on our back, blocking the airflow into the lungs. Because of this, it becomes difficult to breathe.

Tongue-based snoring may occur in people who drink alcohol or use sleep medication. Excessive fat around the neck may also be a cause of tongue-based snoring.

Anti-snoring pillows and backpacks are helpful ways of preventing this kind of snoring. They keep you on your side, preventing you from turning on your back, and help avoid breathing difficulties while sleeping.

Snoring mouthpieces or mandibular advancement devices (MADs) are specially designed to be used as a remedy for tongue snorers. It helps move your jaw forward, thus preventing the tongue from blocking the back of your throat and ensuring uninterrupted breathing.

Throat-based Snoring

Finally, we have throat-based snoring, which is the loudest and most dangerous type of snoring. It is a result of sleep apnoea, a condition where the person stops breathing several times during the night in their sleep. This condition occurs when the muscles and soft tissues in the throat area get too relaxed. When you stop breathing, you may feel choked or begin to cough in an attempt to open up your airway. This may even cause you to wake up from your sleep.

It occurs in every sleeping position and can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke if left untreated.

Sleep apnoea needs medical attention immediately, and the most common treatment methods are CPAP therapy, UPAP therapy and UAS therapy.

Snoring Diagnosis and Treatment

For many of us, your partner might be the first person to tell you that you suffer from snoring. Your doctor might ask the both of you about your symptoms.

Your doctor will also ask about your medical history and do a physical exam to look for obstructions that could block your airways, like chronic nasal congestion due to rhinitis or sinusitis, a deviated septum, or even swollen tonsils. They might also do some tests, such as:

  • Imaging testsX-ray, MRI scan, or CT scan can look for problems in your airways.
  • Sleep studyYou might need to have a machine monitor your sleep while you’re at home or spend the night in a lab for a test called polysomnography. It will measure things like your heart rate, breathing, and brain activity while you sleep.

Treatments for snoring include:

  • Lifestyle changes: Your doctor might tell you to lose weight, quit smoking, or stop drinking alcohol before bed.
  • Surgery: Several kinds of procedures can help stop snoring. Your doctor might remove or shrink tissues in your throat, correct a deviated nasal septum, or make your soft palate stiffer.
  • CPAP machine: A continuous positive airway pressure machine treats sleep apnea and might reduce snoring by blowing air into your airways while you sleep.

If you or anyone you know is a snorer and would like to inquire about treatments for snoring, do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation with any of our ENT Specialists.