What Causes Snoring
When you have a wide open airway, air can flow smoothly through it into your lungs, then back out again. However, when your airways narrow, airflow through them gets restricted. This leads to turbulence. Turbulence vibrates parts of your airway that are soft and flexible, such as your nostrils, your soft palate, or your throat. These vibrations create the sound of snoring.
Why is your airway narrow? There are many potential causes of a narrow airway, including:
- Development of skull and jaw
- Relaxed or weak muscles
- Weight gain
During the day, gravity helps to pull your airway open. While you’re awake, your muscles are alert, holding your airway open. For most people, this means that daytime breathing is silent and easy. At night, though, you lie down to sleep. Now gravity is working to pull your airway closed, especially when you’re sleeping on your back. Once you fall asleep, too, your muscles relax, letting your airway narrow further.
Potential Dangers of Snoring
The most common risk of snoring is that it’s linked to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when your airway doesn’t just narrow, it closes completely, cutting off your air. This stresses your heart and interrupts your sleep. The result is significantly increased risk of heart disease, strokes, and more deadly consequences. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but the louder your snoring, the more likely you have sleep apnea. If someone sleeping with you reports that your snoring ends in gasping and choking, it’s almost certain you have sleep apnea.
Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, snoring is a sign that you’re not breathing well at night, and therefore not sleeping properly. You might still experience some symptoms similar to sleep apnea, such as dozing off while driving.
The vibrations of snoring are dangerous, too. They can cause micro-injuries to your arteries. As these injuries heal, they scar your arteries. Scarred arteries lead to artery hardening, atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Plus, the sound of snoring is disruptive to the sleep of people in your household. This can lead to conflict in your house. Snoring is a significant contributor to divorce and can lead to domestic violence.
For peace of mind and peace in your house, it’s best to treat snoring.
Before treating snoring, you should get tested for sleep apnea. Understanding whether you have sleep apnea or simple snoring can govern the type of treatment you need.
Home Care for Snoring
If you just have simple snoring, try some home care. Avoid over-the-counter solutions that are unlikely to help. Instead, try some simple lifestyle changes.
Make sure your home is relatively free of allergens. Dust more regularly and clean furnace filters. If you have seasonal allergies, consider taking medications to control inflammation. However, note that some allergy medications can relax your muscles, leading to snoring, too. Consider getting tested for food allergies. If you have even a mild allergy to certain foods, avoid them in the evening.
Try to sleep on your side. Gravity pulls your airway closed less when you’re lying on your side.
If you smoke, consider quitting. If you drink alcohol, try to avoid drinking it at night. Alcohol relaxes your muscles, which lets your airway collapse even more.
Try to get more exercise and lose weight. Exercise can strengthen the muscles of your airway, helping them to stay open. Losing weight will reduce fat buildup that weighs down your airway.
Professional Snoring Treatment
If home care doesn’t control your snoring, there are some professional snoring treatments that can work.
Snoring surgery can improve snoring. It’s most effective if your snoring is centered in your nose, where removing nasal restrictions and repairing a deviated septum can reduce snoring. Trimming the soft palate and removal of tonsils and adenoids can help snoring. However, the improvement is usually temporary.
Oral appliance therapy is an effective snoring treatment. A custom oral appliance will hold your jaw in a position that keeps your airway open at night. It’s the same as the CPAP alternative for sleep apnea treatment.
Snoring Treatment in Detroit
If you or your family is tired of living with your snoring, let Detroit sleep dentists Dr. Chad Witkow, Dr. Richard Klein, and their team of experts help. We have helped many people get relief from snoring so they–and everyone in their house–can sleep in peace.
Please call (586) 573-0438 or use our online form to request an appointment at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute in Warren, MI.