Snoring: Causes and Treatment options to help with this Social Problem
During a recent Boy Scout outing my son Matthew and I went to Muskegon to sleep on the World War II submarine USS Silversides. This is quite an experience spending the night on such a vessel. I have such an appreciation for what the men who served in the war did for our country some 65 years ago and the sacrifices they gave. If you are in the area take some time to explore this great piece of history.
During the night sleeping in a confined setting with others I experienced what many have to deal with every night—SNORING!!! I had quite a sleepless night sleeping next to a man who snored after every breath. I gave him my business card and told him that I can help him with a snoring appliance that I will later describe. It became apparent to me what I needed to write my monthly article on. There are a few observations I made here that I think snorers need to hear and appreciate.
Those who snore without a stoppage of breathing are usually not affected by their actions. Even though there is nothing they can consciously do about their actions it remains an obtrusive act to others. Even with the use of ear plugs the sound can penetrate and keep others awake.
This act of snoring can lead to embarrassment and feeling of hopelessness to those who snore.
Being married to one who snores can have a effect on the marriage because it keeps the other spouse up at night creating resentment and exhaustion for them. Many partners of snorers decide to sleep in separate rooms, and the resulting lack of bedtime chatting and physical intimacy can lead to a strained relationship. The person who snores often becomes isolated and frustrated about a problem they seemingly have no control over.
Negative Physical Consequences of heavy snoring and sleep apnea:
Deep snoring can lead to a more physically serious problem called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when one stops breathing during one of the snoring cycles. As one goes into a deeper level of sleep the muscles in the back of the throat get more relaxed and eventually close off the airway. They will eventually gasp for air after a 10-15 second episode of not breathing because the brain senses a decrease in blood oxygen. During this oxygen deprivation the body produces a surge of adrenaline deposited into the blood stream which raises blood pressure and gets the heart to pump harder. The person can develop systemic problems like diabetes, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure and a whole host of other problems from this potentially serious problem.
Causes of snoring out of our control:
- Heredity – A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids and other physical attributes which contribute to snoring can be hereditary.
- Being middle-aged or beyond – As you age, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
- Being male – Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore.
- Allergies, asthma, a cold, or sinus infections – Blocked airways make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
- Lose weight – Losing weight is often a very effective cure for mild to moderate snoring. Even a little bit of weight loss can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease snoring.
- Sleep on your side – If you sleep on your back and snore mildly, sleeping on your side might cure your snoring altogether.
- Elevate your head – Try elevating the head of your bed four inches, which may make breathing easier and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. Sleep without a pillow (or with a specially designed pillow) to make sure your neck muscles are not crimped.
- Avoid certain foods, alcohol and medications before bed – Alcohol and certain medications increase relaxation of throat and tongue muscles, which makes snoring more likely. Sleeping pills or tranquilizers may help you sleep, but they will also relax your muscles and increase the chance of snoring. High-fat milk products or soy milk products cause mucus to build up in the throat which can lead to snoring as well.
- Clear your nasal passages – Having a stuffy nose makes inhalation difficult and creates a vacuum in your throat, which in turn leads to snoring. Nasal decongestants or nasal strips may help you breathe more easily while sleeping. Antihistamines can help with allergies, but will relax throat muscles and cause snoring.
If these remedies don’t help then you could be a candidate for an acrylic oral appliance that we make which keeps the lower jaw pushed forward and thereby opening the soft palate and keeping the tongue in a more forward position. This is an effective approach to snoring cessation and will also help with those relationships that have been effected by this condition.
Dr. Antolak practices comprehensive, implant and cosmetic dentistry in Shelby Township, Michigan. To contact the office call (586)247-3500 or email at DrAntolak@TheGentleDentist.com.
About The Author
Dr. Robert Antolak, DDS graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987 with his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality and appropriate cosmetic, sedation and general dentistry in the most comfortable and gentle way possible. Because being a dentist has been a lifelong dream, Dr. Antolak has a passion for the profession. He enjoys helping people feel better about their smiles and therefore their self-image with dental implant and cosmetic dentistry. His Dental Practice is located in Shelby Township, Michigan. For more information visit The Gentle Dentist.