Snoring and Sleep Apnea Information
Snoring occurs when the air flows over relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe creating harsh sounds. The more narrowed your airway the more forceful the airflow becomes, tissue vibration increases and your snoring grows louder.
A Variety of factors can lead to snoring, including:
Obstructed nasal airways
Partially blocked nasal passages require extra effort to transfer air through them while sleeping. This can pull together or collapse the non-rigid soft and dangling tissue of the throat, resulting in snoring. Some people snore only during the allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection.
Deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum (a structural change in the wall that separates one nostril from the other) or nasal polyps can also cause obstruction and sleep problems.
Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue
Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can result from deep sleep, alcohol, and the consumption of some sleeping pills though no relationship has been made with diet and snoring. Normal aging causes faster relaxation of these muscles and increases the potential for snoring.
Bulky throat tissue
Being overweight can cause bulky throat tissue. Also, children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore.
Long soft palate and/or uvula
A long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in the back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another during sleep, the airway becomes obstructed causing snoring.
Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to snore because their airways become inflamed and blocked.
Sleeping on your back
Sometimes people who snore also suffer from sleep apnea. Apnea refers to periods of interrupted breathing which can last 10 seconds or longer.
Essentially the same process as snoring occurs except that muscles relax to such an extent they cause a complete rather than partial obstruction. When sleep apnea takes place, a buildup of carbon dioxide occurs in the blood stream.
The brain detects a lack of oxygen and reacts by waking the person in order for normal breathing to resume. Sleep apnea can occur several times a night and the effects of broken sleep are the same as with snoring.
However, the chance of heart failure increases with sleep apnea as the heart has to work so much harder. A sleep study is usually conducted and a c-pap device prescribed.
Mandibular Advancement Devices or Splints.
The splint treats snoring by moving the lower jaw forward slightly, which tightens the soft tissue and muscles of the upper airway to prevent obstruction of the airway during sleep. The tightening created by the anti snoring device also prevents the tissues of the upper airway from vibrating as air passes over them – the most common cause of snoring.
The C-pap machine blows air at a prescribed pressure. The necessary pressure is usually determined by a sleep physician after review of a sleep study.
Surgical snoring cures that are commonly available include: Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP), Somnoplasty (radiofrequency tissue ablation), Tongue suspension procedure, injection snoreplasty.