Snoring can wake you up at night, whether it is because of a sudden loud snort or due to trouble breathing and gasping for air. In some cases you may not be aware this is happening.
Snoring that wakes you up frequently and interferes with your sleep could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which requires medical treatment.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Snoring is often related to a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is characterized by repeated cessation of breathing due to airway blockage during sleep. You may have OSA if you have the following symptoms:
- Loud snoring
- Pauses in breathing or gasping for breath during sleep
- Sore throat upon awakening
- Morning headaches
- Not feeling refreshed even after getting adequate hours of sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor attention span and behavioral issues (in children)
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain at night
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.
What causes snoring?
Snoring can be caused by several factors, including:
When you go into deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue, and throat relax. When these tissues relax more than they should, they partially block your airway and vibrate as you breathe. If your airway is narrowed by issues such as inflammation or excess tissue, the air flows more forcefully. This increased vibration causes you to snore louder.
Anyone can develop obstructive sleep apnea and associated snoring. However, certain factors put you at a higher risk and may include:
- Medical conditions that cause weight gain such as:
- Advanced age
- Narrowed airway due to:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Male sex
- Family history of sleep apnea
Can snoring cause complications?
Snoring is not only troublesome but can also cause complications if associated with obstructive sleep apnea. These complications include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Frequent outbursts of anger
- Issues with concentration
- Increased risk of medical conditions such as:
- Heart conditions
- Increased risk road accidents
Which tests may be ordered to assess frequent snoring?
Your doctor may examine the back of your throat, mouth, and nose to check for abnormal growths. They may also refer you to a sleep specialist, who may order tests such as:
- Polysomnography: Sleep study that involves monitoring you all night or a part of the night with equipment that monitors your heart, lung, and brain activity; breathing patterns; and blood oxygen levels during sleep.
- Home sleep apnea testing: At-home version of polysomnography.
What are treatment options for snoring?
Your doctor will first try to check if your snoring is controlled by simple preventive measures that include:
- Losing weight if you are overweight
- Limiting alcohol and avoiding alcohol before bedtime
- Exercising regularly
- Quitting smoking
- Not sleeping on your back
If you have allergies, your doctor may advise you to use nasal decongestants. If you use sleeping pills, they may ask you to discontinue them and provide you with alternatives.
When these measures are ineffective, your doctor or sleep specialist may recommend certain devices, CPAP therapy, or surgery.
- Mouthpiece (an oral device designed to keep your throat open)
- Nasal pillow mask (a mask that supplies air pressure)
- Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP (a machine that delivers air pressure into your nose and mouth while you sleep)
- Surgery or other procedures:
- Nasal surgery to remove nasal polyps
- Nasal surgery to treat deviated nasal septum (a condition characterized by shifting of the nasal septum that separates the two nostrils to one side)
- Surgery to remove enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (a procedure in which your doctor removes tissue from the back of your mouth and top of your throat)
- Upper airway stimulation (a procedure that involves implanting a device that senses your breathing patterns and delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles, keeping your airway open during sleep)
- Maxillomandibular advancement (a type of jaw surgery in which the upper and lower parts of your jaw are moved forward from the rest of your facial bones)
- Tracheostomy (a procedure that involves creating a surgical opening in your neck to insert a metal or plastic tube through which you breathe)
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Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/295807-overview
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