Sleep apnoea is a significant health issue that reduces sleep quality, and increases risks of other serious medical issues over time. If there is a history of stopping breathing during the night, or excessive tiredness during the day, then a sleep study may be required.
Even if there is no sleep apnoea, simple snoring can place a strain on relationships. In many cases snoring is easy to treat.
Why do people snore?
If you surveyed Australian couples and asked what their partner’s most annoying trait is, you’d undoubtedly find snoring somewhere near the top of the list. For a condition that seems to affect so many people and is often a comic trope in film and TV, you might be surprised to learn that snoring is not a normal or inevitable condition. In fact, it often insinuates that there could be underlying issues at play.
Having worked with many patients who wish to cease snoring, Dr Ted Smith, ENT discusses the causes of snoring and how best to reclaim your restful nights.
Weight can play a significant role in causing snoring, as the extra tissue and fat deposits around the neck can restrict the passage of air through the throat. When you’re lying down, gravity can further compress the airway, collapsing the muscles that keep the airway opening, and resulting in the vibrations that cause snoring.
It’s widely known that alcohol can be a relaxant, resulting in lethargic, slack muscles. Whilst we may only think about our wobbly legs or loose grip when we drink, many of us don’t consider the effect alcohol has on the muscles in our throat – primarily the muscles that keep our airways open. When these muscles are relaxed, the narrower airway can result in snoring – even in people who don’t typically snore.
It’s been demonstrated that people who sleep on their backs are recorded to snore more. This is because this position encourages the throat muscles to relax. Rolling yourself – or the offender – to the side can help.
Large tonsils, a bulky palate or tongue can contribute to snoring. These issues can be helped by non surgical solutions such as sleep-positioning, or mandibular advancement splints. In appropriately selected cases surgery will provide a solution.
Sinus or nasal issues
Snoring can often be attributed to blocked noses, and blocked noses can be a result of allergies, structural issues in the nose, or sinusitis.
If you suffer from allergies, your nasal passage and throat are likely to be inflamed and congested, meaning that the typically smooth flow of air is disrupted. The resulting vibration is the rumbling sound we hear when someone is breathing – aka, snoring. Choosing hypoallergenic pillows and blankets can reduce the irritation.
In some cases, the nose can be helped by nasal sprays. In more severe cases oral antibiotics and prednisone may have a role. If these treatments don’t work, then sinus or nasal surgery will usually be helpful.
Snoring, blocked nasal passages, and sinus issues can cause tiredness, chronic health issues, and cause a strain on relationships. Dr Ted Smith ENT recommends making an appointment with an ENT specialist to discuss your symptoms. It is important to work out how severe an issue snoring is for your health, identify the causes and establish a treatment plan. Make an appointment at Smith ENT to find out more.