Snoring occurs when tissue vibrates in the upper airway that causes the noisy breathing that either keep you up or people around you awake. It is a common problem that affects most people, especially adults. It is often harmless, but there are cases where it can be linked to a more serious problem in the future if left unchecked. Visit your doctor for regular check-ups to avoid worsening an easily treatable condition. If your snoring is becoming disruptive, or if there are other symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.
When you’re awake the tissues in the throat and upper airway are open, which makes it easy for air to enter the lungs. While asleep, the soft tissues and tongue relaxes, and may cause a slight airway obstruction. If the air coming in and out of the airway encounters enough resistance, unnecessary vibration, or snoring, can occur.
- Obstructed nasal airways: Sometimes, people snore only when allergy seasons arrive or when they have a sinus infection. Deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum, a structural change in the wall, or nasal polyps can also cause impediments.
- Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue: Throat and tongue muscles can collapse and fall back into the airway if they are too relaxed. This can result from deep sleep, too much alcohol intake, or the side-effects of some sleeping pills. Natural aging causes further slackening of these muscles.
- Bulky throat tissue: More muscles in the airway mean more chances of blocking the opening which is why being overweight can cause snoring. Children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore because of too much tissue blockages in the airway.
- Long soft palate and/or uvula: A long soft palate or a long uvula, the pink dangling tissue at the back of your mouth, can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another because of obstructions, it produces the snoring sound.
The primary symptom of snoring is unmistakable – the often loud, harsh or hoarse noises that you make while you are asleep. Other indications include waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth.
If you have any of the following symptoms you may have developed sleep apnea:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Choking or gasping while you sleep
- Pauses in breathing
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Moodiness, irritability or depression
- Frequent need to urinate during the night
Harmless snoring becomes a serious health problem when it is habitual. This includes obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea creates several problems, including:
- Breathing interruptions (from a few seconds to minutes) during sleep caused by partial or total obstruction or blockage of the airway.
- Heart strains. Extended stress from obstructive sleep apnea often results in higher blood pressure and might cause enlargement of the heart, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Light sleeping. Waking up intermittently at night interferes with the normal pattern of sleep, causing more time to be spent in light sleep. This is different from the deep sleep that significantly restores your energy and body capacities (thinking and concentration).
- Poor night’s sleep. This leads to drowsiness during the day which interferes with your daily life and increase risk of accidents.
- Frequent sleep walking
Dr. Kanwar Kelley is located at Orinda California and if you are suffering from snoring problem, don’t hesitate to make an appointment (925) 254-6710. He is an experienced physician in many illnesses who can guide your health in the right direction.