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Snoring and Sleep Apnea

snoring.hrSnoring is a widespread problem that affects many people – most often men over the age of 40, and those who are overweight. Snoring doesn’t just interfere with your sleep, it can be a real annoyance for your partner, and may signal a serious health condition called obstructive sleep apnea.

What Causes Snoring?

When airflow through the nose and mouth is blocked due to a physical obstruction, snoring occurs. This blockage is caused by relaxed throat tissues (mainly the tongue, uvula, and soft palate) vibrating together when you breathe, and can be the result of obstructions in the nasal airways, poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat, excess throat tissue, or an abnormally shaped jaw.

Health Risks

Those who snore on a regular nightly basis are at higher risk for developing serious health problems. One of the most common is called obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing is interrupted continuously through the night, often for ten seconds or longer.

Obstructive sleep apnea puts strain on the heart and can lead to hypertension, heart attacks, and stroke. People with this disorder tend to sleep lightly and wake often during the night, causing them to feel tired the next day. This can have an adverse effect on your ability to concentrate, and lead to anger and depression. Many a relationship has floundered under the stress of a partner’s snoring.

Snoring Treatments

Fortunately, there are solutions, beginning with lifestyle changes. Try losing weight and avoiding alcohol or heavy meals before bed. Sleep on your side rather than your back.

Depending on the severity of your snoring, you can try nasal strips that open up the airway passages to allow normal breathing, or oral mouth guards designed to reposition your jaw while you sleep. There are a number of surgical options to consider which can improve your snoring and sleep apnea.

The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea involves use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that delivers controlled bursts of air pressure as you sleep, ensuring normal breathing. You may have to take part in a sleep study, either at home or in a clinical setting, in order for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to be made.

If you suffer from snoring or have symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified ENT Specialists.

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