Snoring is usually considered as a problem without a solution and thus consulting a doctor never comes in mind though sleep apnea treatment options should be investigated. The causes of snoring can range from a hereditary problem to the social and psychological problems of today’s hectic lifestyle. But technically speaking, people who snore often have thick throat and nasal tissue, also called as “floppy” tissue, which is more prone to vibrate than in a normal tissue set up. It has been found that men have narrower air passages than women and are thus, more prone to snoring. Being overweight or obese can also lead to snoring due to the poor coordination of fatty tissues and muscles of the throat. Facial attributes, bad sleeping posture and breathing problems like asthma can also lead to snoring. While they are some of the uncontrollable reasons, but smoking and drinking are the two parasites, which eat up the health of a person gradually. While smoking affects the lungs and drinking relaxes the throat muscles that lead to snoring, the problem can also get aggravated to serious problems like sleep apnea, etc. Snoring and sleep apnea , a breathing disorder while sleeping, may not seem to be connected, but it isn’t so.
Snoring is one of the clear symptoms of sleep apnea disorder and thus should not be ignored if accompanied by following symptoms:
- Excessive tiredness and fatigue during daytime.
- Sudden awakening in nights and gasping of air, choking spells.
- Constant headaches.
- Waking un-refreshed in the morning.
While the causes of sleep apnea snoring can be anything like obesity, physical features like larger neck sizes than normal, tonsils or adenoids, nasal congestion problems, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GFD) or even smoking and drinking, which don’t sound to be too dangerous to worry about, but if the problem is left untreated, it can even prove fatal. There are two types of sleep apnea disorder, Objective Sleep Apnea (OSA) and the more complex Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). Although the symptoms of both the types of sleep apnea disorder are the same, the causes are not. Central sleep apnea is caused due to delay in delivery of the message from the brain to the body to breathe. It can also be caused due to some injury related to the brain like a stroke, brain tumor or viral brain infection.
Before the treatment for sleep apnea snoring can be started, it is important that the problem gets diagnosed properly. In some cases, self-help remedies can help, which can include:
- Losing weight
- Losing excess weight can help reduce the fatty tissues that put pressure on the throat while sleeping and lead to snoring.
- Sleeping on one side
- This is one of the habits that have given satisfactory results in many cases. Sleeping on one side helps in making the snoring mild, as compared to when you sleep on your back.
- Elevating head level.
- Studies have shown that elevating the head to about 4 inches from the base, have helped in solving sleep apnea snoring problem to a much better extent than other methods.
- Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
- They help in relaxing the throat muscles, which makes snoring more likely. Tobacco can affect the lungs seriously, which can lead to some breathing problems, which in itself is one of the causes of sleep apnea snoring.
- Avoiding sleeping pills
- Sleeping pills and some other medications may give temporary relief while sleeping, but since they also help relax the throat muscles, which causes snoring.
- Clearing nasal passages
- Congestion in the air passage makes breathing difficult, which make a person snore and can also lead to serious sleep disorders.
Besides these self help remedies to solve sleep apnea snoring, there are some proper treatments available today. While medication is a part of the treatment, a physician or an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) can also prescribe some obstructive sleep apnea breathing devices depending on the nature and scale of the problem. One of these devices is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) that blows pressurized air into the mask you wear over your nose while sleeping. Since many people found it uncomfortable to wear a mask through the night, new dental or oral devices were developed, also known as lower jaw positioners, which help open the airway by bringing the lower jaw or tongue forward during sleep.
If these devices don’t bring any relief then doctors usually advice the patient to undergo a surgery that can solve the problem of sleep apnea snoring permanently. Such surgeries include Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, which increase the size of the airway by surgically removing tissues or by correcting physical abnormalities. But, a surgery in any case should be avoided because it brings with it, the risk of some other infections, which may delay the recovery process.