Many people find snoring as an annoyance, and something that happens to basically everyone. There are many individuals out there who snore or have a bed partner who snores. Many people have gotten either used to snoring, have used earplugs to decrease hearing snoring, or even sleep in a different bedroom to avoid their bed partner snoring altogether. But in reality, snoring can be a sign of a potentially life altering, even a life-threatening sleep disorder, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Snoring cannot only interrupt the bed partners sleep, but it could also interrupt the individual who is snoring sleep quality. The fragmentation of sleep (arousals) can happen literally 40 to 50 times an hour. This is the equivalent of somebody waking up almost once a minute. This constant awakening can also lead to sleep deprivation (chronic sleep loss) due to changes in the amount of deep sleep and REM sleep that the individual gets. It has been shown that frequent arousals can alter an individual’s blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate due to the frequent disruption of the deeper stages asleep as well as REM sleep.
Snoring is a vibration of the soft tissue in the back of the upper airway (oropharynx) while an individual is sleeping. Snoring can be measured during a sleep study (polysomnogram). Snoring will get worse as tissues in the upper airway begin to relax either through a patient entering REM sleep or with the use of certain medications that cause muscle relaxation (muscle relaxants, pain medications, sleep aids and alcohol).
increasing the volume of the oropharynx will help decrease the overall airflow that the patient is inspiring and thus decreasing the likelihood or occurrence of snoring. This is in essence changing the amount of space between the tongue, the soft palate, and the uvula to increase the space between these anatomical spaces. Some of the treatments include, but are not limited to:
other helpful ways for treating snoring includes:
Nasal sprays (that open the nasal passages to allow airflow to a car more easily)
Body position devices (devices that stop a patient from sleeping on their back which is where most snoring occurs)
Note: just because a patient no longer snores does not mean that they are cured of their illness. A sleep study should be done to confirm that there are no other sleep related issues.
Just because a person snores does not mean they only suffer from snoring, they may actually have other sleep disorders. If a patient snores continuously they probably have primary snoring. If a patient snores, stop snoring for 5 to 30 seconds and then snorts has a big breath in snores a few times and then stop snoring again they probably have obstructive sleep apnea.
There are individuals who have significant sleep apnea but do not snore, they are referred to as quiet apneics. They still have all of the clinical features of sleep apnea, but the diagnosis may initially be missed due to the fact that they do not snore significantly or at all.