We all know that a lack of sleep can make it difficult to work or simply enjoy life. But, sleep disturbances like snoring and sleep apnea are more than just an annoyance. A long-term pattern of sleep interruptions can cause serious health problems. Our specialists can help you get the restful sleep you need.
Snoring is very common. In fact, almost half of all normal adults snore, some occasionally, and others chronically. If it happens only once in a while, there are steps you can take to help prevent or reduce snoring. But, if you snore every night, or very frequently, it’s a good idea to see an ENT specialist to determine what is causing the problem. Your snoring could be a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a condition that can lead to serious health problems. Even if the cause is something more minor, lack of sleep can affect your wellbeing in many ways, so it’s still important to try to find a solution.
SNORING AND OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA
Loud snoring combined with periods during which breathing frequently stops, is known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Serious OSA can result in breathing interruptions lasting more than ten seconds each, occurring multiple times an hour. This pattern can continue through the night as the individual tries to sleep. OSA can result in reduced blood oxygen levels, leading to problems with the cardiovascular system, and daytime fatigue which can affect work and lifestyle. ENT and Allergy Specialists now offers an At Home Sleep Study than can help diagnose OSA.
Snoring happens when air flow through the back of the mouth and the nose is obstructed, causing vibrations that create a snoring sound. When a child snores, the cause could be enlarged tonsils and adenoids, or a dental problem, such as an overbite. Other conditions that are far less common include airway blockages, such as a tumor or growth, or birth defects.
Causes of snoring in adults include:
DRUG and ALCOHOL USE
When muscles are too relaxed, either from alcohol or drugs that cause sleepiness, the tongue falls backwards into the airway or the throat muscles draw in from the sides into the airway.
Allergies can create swelling of the tissues of the nasal passages. This restricts air flow and can lead to snoring.
WEIGHT AND OBESITY
Individuals who are overweight may have excess tissue in the throat or mouth that can cause a breathing obstruction.
SOFT TISSUE ABNORMALITIES
Issues with the soft tissues of the mouth, throat or sinuses are often the cause of chronic snoring. The soft palate, the tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth may be too long. The uvula, the tissue that hangs down from the soft palate, may be unusually long or too thick. The tongue may be too large, or there may be abnormalities in the base of tongue that can narrow the space through which air flows. In the sinuses, the nasal turbinates may be excessively large, causing an obstruction.
HOME SLEEP STUDIES
To determine the cause of frequent or chronic snoring and sleep disturbances, your specialist may suggest a sleep study. There are both at home sleep tests and in lab tests that can be done.
ENT & Allergy Specialists offers a Home Sleep Apnea test that collects information about your breathing and sleep patterns while in the comfort and convenience of your own bed. The data collected will be analyzed by a board-certified sleep medicine specialist and if there are any issues a treatment plan will be discussed.
Treatment for snoring and related obstructive sleep apnea depends on the diagnosis. An examination will reveal if the snoring is caused by a nasal allergy, infection, soft tissue abnormality, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, or other issues.
HELP FOR OCCASIONAL SNORING
Adults who suffer from mild or occasional snoring may find relief from these remedies:
- Adopt a healthy and athletic lifestyle to develop good muscle tone and lose weight.
- Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol for at least four hours and heavy meals or snacks for three hours before bed.
- Establish regular sleeping patterns.
- Sleep on your side rather than your back.
- Tilt the head of your bed upwards four inches.
- If diagnosed with allergies, follow the treatment plan prescribed.
CHRONIC SNORING AND OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA
Surgery and some in-office procedures can relieve chronic snoring or sleep apnea by removing or shrinking obstructive tissue in the throat, palate, upper airway, base of the tongue or nasal turbinates. Other procedures open the obstructed airway by pulling the tongue muscles forward.
If surgery is too risky or unwanted, your specialist may recommend sleeping with a continuous positive airway pressure device, commonly called a CPAP. The device delivers air pressure into the throat, keeping the airway open.