Thursday, 23 June 2011

Snoring: Causes and treatment

Snoring is a sound caused when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. It is usually very normal and more common amongst men.

Consuming too much of alcohol before bedtime can lead to snoring. Alcohol acts as a sedative, relaxing throat muscles.

Children with large tonsils and adenoids may snore. Overweight people may also have bulky neck tissue and often suffer from this problem. Recent weight gain is especially important in evaluating for sleep apnoea.

A stuffy or blocked nose requires extra effort to pull air through it. This creates a vacuum in the throat, which results in snoring.

Deformities of the nose or nasal septum, such as deviated septum (a deformity of the wall that separates one nostril from the other) can cause snoring.

Age can also be a factor as when one gets older, the throat muscles become weaker causing the surrounding tissues to sag and vibrate.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause for snoring. Dental plates are available that help prevent snoring. These bring the lower jaw and the tongue forward thus opening up the air passage behind.

Treat nasal congestion or obstruction - having a deviated septum or allergies can limit airflow through the nose. This forces one to breathe through the mouth, increasing the likelihood of snoring. Don't use an oral or spray decongestant for more than three days in a row for acute congestion unless directed to do so by the doctor.

Avoid drinking alcohol at least four hours before bedtime, and let the doctor know about your snoring before taking sedatives or hypnotics. Sedatives and hypnotics (sleeping pills) and alcohol depress the central nervous system, causing excessive relaxation of muscles, including the tissues in your throat.
Snoring: Causes and treatment
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) involves wearing a pressurised mask over your nose while you sleep. The mask is attached to a small pump that forces air through your airway, which keeps it open. CPAP eliminates snoring and prevents sleep apnoea.

Surgery may be suggested if there is a specific nasal deformity, or if there is excessive soft tissue at the back of the throat, when an operation called Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty may be advised to open the airway.

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