Category Archives for Snoring

The Relationship Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a common condition that affects approximately 45% of adults occasionally and 25% chronically. Those who experience chronic snoring may be suffering from obstructed breathing or another serious medical condition. An estimated 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which involves short periods of disrupted breathing during sleep that can lead to long-term health problems.

The most common sign of OSA is loud and continual snoring, sometimes punctuated by choking or gasping. Another common OSA symptom is fighting sleepiness throughout the day. Other symptoms of OSA include morning headaches, concentration difficulty, a dry mouth and sore throat when waking in the morning, and irritability or depression. While OSA almost always involves noisy and frequent snoring, snoring itself does not always indicate that a person has OSA.

The immediate effect of sleep apnea is that the snorer sleeps lightly and keeps his or her throat muscles tense to maintain airflow to the lungs. Because the snorer does not get good rest, he or she is often tired during the day, which can impair job performance and jeopardize your safety. If left untreated, OSA increases your risk of developing cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, and other medical issues.

Snoring or OSA generally responds to treatments offered by otolaryngologists and other medical professionals. OSA is commonly treated by a nasal mask that opens the airway via exerting a small amount of positive pressure. This form of treatment is called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

Adults who suffer from occasional snoring can benefit from adjusting their lifestyle to include healthy weight loss, more exercise, less alcohol, and regular sleeping patterns. If you or your sleeping partner is experiencing any snoring, impaired breathing during sleep, or increased sleepiness, see your physician to ascertain whether OSA is the cause. He or she can also suggest treatment options and lifestyle changes to relieve these symptoms.

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Sleep Apnea As A Contributing Factor To Obesity

In addition to making sleep apnea more likely, obesity can also occur as a result of sleep apnea. Although this relationship is not completely understood by researchers yet, the elevated risk of obesity among sleep apnea patients appears to be caused by the effects of sleep deprivation and its effects on hunger and satiety hormones.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 65% of Americans are now overweight or obese. Sleep apnea and the resulting poor sleep often prompts people to eat more. This is likely due to impaired hormone activity created by sleep deprivation, which leads to harmful metabolic changes. These metabolic and hormonal changes are why many individuals who suffer from sleep apnea have a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese.

When appetite-regulating hormones are operating improperly, it is much easier to overeat and gain weight. Lack of sleep decreases the body’s levels of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for signaling the brain when the body is satiated and no longer hungry. Studies have indicated that leptin levels are disrupted in individuals with obstructive sleep apnea; the extent of leptin disruption is not determined by obesity alone, implying that sleep apnea is responsible for the hormonal imbalance, disrupted appetite, and resulting weight gain.

To make matters worse, when your body is sleep-deprived, it increases its production of ghrelin, which is responsible for stimulating appetite and increasing eating. These unhealthy levels of ghrelin and leptin can prompt overeating, fat storage, and excess weight. As a result, many individuals with sleep apnea are at a much higher risk for becoming overweight or obese.

Sleep is incredibly important for your overall health, and most individuals require seven to nine hours of rest each night. If you are suffering from a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, see your doctor. He or she can recommend lifestyle adjustments and treatments to ensure better rest and a lower risk of weight gain.

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Sleep Apnea In Children

Disordered breathing like obstructive sleep apnea can occur in children as well as in adults. An estimated three to 12 percent of children snore, and one to 10 percent of children suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Most children with sleep apnea experience relatively mild symptoms and can outgrow the condition, but others are at risk for complications like cardiopulmonary disease, behavioral problems, and failure to thrive.

Sleep apnea is marked by pauses in breathing during sleep, and the condition often involves snoring, gasping, or choking as the person struggles to breathe during these episodes. In general, sleep apnea in children is caused by the enlargement of the adenoids or tonsils. This disorder can occur even in newborns and may create long-term health concerns if not treated. An enlarged tongue may also contribute to long-term snoring and sleep apnea in children.

Another increasingly common cause of obstructive sleep apnea in children is obesity. Children who are overweight or obese can have sleep-apnea-related breathing problems because of fat deposits in the neck and throat that narrow their airways.

Alternatively, existing health conditions such as Down syndrome, a cleft palate, and cerebral palsy can create abnormalities in the tongue and jaw or may cause neuromuscular deficits, which may lead to sleep apnea and other breathing issues.

Sleep apnea in children is most common between ages three and six, when adenoids and tonsils are at their largest in relation to child-size airways. A child who snores chronically should be examined by a doctor or an otolaryngologist. He or she may suggest weight loss to reduce fat deposits or surgery to remove the enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

For children who are not candidates for surgery or who experience persistent snoring even after surgery, doctors recommend wearing a sleep mask for at least three hours a night to reduce symptoms and promote healthy breathing.

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Snoring and Gender

Although many people experience snoring from time to time, the condition is most commonly seen in men and in those who are overweight. According to the Mayo Clinic, men are much more likely than women to snore or to experience related conditions like sleep apnea.

An estimated half of adult men snore for varying reasons. Most commonly, men snore because their airways become narrower during sleep, which creates a resistance in the pathways connecting the nose and mouth to the lungs. Alternatively, a smaller percentage of men suffer from structural issues in their jaw and face.

Issues like a small jaw or a shallow space between the nostrils and the back of the head can cause snoring. This also causes additional suction pressure on the soft tissues of the mouth, creating vibrations and worsening the effects of snoring.

Problematic snoring is most frequent in males who are overweight or obese and usually worsens with age. As a result, it is very important to treat both the snoring and any contributing medical or lifestyle causes of breathing issues.

If left untreated, snoring and any associated sleep deprivation can also contribute to heart disease symptoms such as arrhythmias, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure. Daytime dysfunction is also common among those who snore because of unrefreshing sleep, which can lead to safety issues, impaired productivity, and cognitive issues.

Because snoring may indicate an underlying medical issue such as obstructive sleep apnea, it is important that those who suffer from chronic snoring see their physicians. Your doctor can ascertain the cause of your snoring, and he or she may also recommend further medical treatment by a specialist.

Lifestyle changes are also helpful in reducing the effects of snoring, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption.

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Effects of Snoring on Relationships

People who snore can experience significant complications, such as additional medical risks and constant sleepiness. Snoring may be an indication of obstructed breathing or another health issue. To make matters worse, snoring can also make you feel self-conscious and may cause your bed partner to experience restless nights.

If you sleep with a spouse or a partner, your snoring may also deprive him or her of sleep. As a result, your spouse or partner is forced to battle sleep deprivation, impaired cognitive function, and other symptoms just like you have to. This may lead to arguments, impatience, resentment, and tension in your relationship. And if both parties are exhausted and frustrated, small issues can quickly grow into massive relationship obstacles.

In an estimated 80% of these cases, the non-snoring sleep-mate will resort to sleeping in another room in the hope of finally getting a good night’s rest. Once couples start sleeping in separate rooms, emotional and sexual aspects of their relationship may suffer.

Additionally, children and loved ones may feel confused by this example and attribute other motives for your decision to sleep apart. As a result, your intimate relationships can suffer significantly and may even be ruined.

Because sleep is so crucial for our physical health and mental functioning, impaired sleep can create safety problems for you, your partner, and those you may be around during the day. Consequently, it is important for your health, your spouse’s or partner’s health, and for your relationship that you find a way to stop snoring.

Not all snoring has the same cause. If you can figure out why you snore, then you and your sleeping partner can find appropriate solutions to quieter, deeper sleep together.

Your doctor can recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight and quitting smoking, and he or she may recommend further medical intervention like a nighttime breathing device if necessary. Most importantly, you and your spouse or partner must appreciate each other’s efforts to find a healthy solution together.

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Enlarged Uvula, Enlarged Tonsils and Enlarged Tongue Can Contribute To Developing Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that involves airway blockage or inactivation, which prompts snoring and other symptoms like choking or gasping. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of this disorder, occurs when throat muscles relax and cause the structures they support (the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, and the back of the tongue) to collapse toward your airway.

When these supported structures are enlarged or swollen, airway blockage is even more likely. If swelling continues and becomes chronic, you are more likely to develop the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

As the uvula, tonsils, or tongue increases in size, your airway narrows as you inhale, preventing you from breathing effectively during sleep. The excessive length of a swollen uvula, for example, narrows the airway and acts a noisy, fluttering valve during relaxed nighttime breathing. This fluttering action stimulates vibrations to create snoring during sleep.

The back of the tongue is a particularly major contributor to obstructive sleep apnea, as tongue enlargement is associated with approximately 60% of all sleep apnea patients. In addition, enlarged tonsils can also lead to snoring and other sleep apnea symptoms by creating additional airway blockage during sleep. Enlargement may occur as the result of infection or in healthy children with developing throats and airways.

Sleeping on your back can worsen the effects of enlarged tonsils, uvula, or tongue. As you lie on your back, gravity pulls your tongue and other soft tissues toward the back of your throat, making airway obstruction much more likely. To avoid this obstruction, try sleeping on your side instead of on your back.

If you are experience persistent enlargement of your uvula, tongue, or tonsils, you should see your doctor or an otolaryngologist to determine the best treatments for you. He or she may suggest an oral device to wear during sleep or may recommend surgical treatment to reduce obstructive tissue in your mouth and throat.

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Find Out The Reasons Behind Your Snoring

Many people are affected by snoring, with 25% of adults snoring habitually. Snoring occurs when air cannot move freely through your nose and mouth during sleep, causing tissues in the nose and mouth to vibrate.

Generally, this impaired airflow is created by blockage and airway narrowing, either from improper sleep posture or from abnormally shaped soft tissue in the throat. Finding out the specific cause of your snoring is essential to manage it effectively.

Gaining extra weight is a major reason for snoring, since excess weight leads to fatty tissue and poor muscle tone. These problems can create or worsen snoring, since excess tissue can obstruct your airway and poor muscle tone limits the efficiency of your breathing. Sleep posture also prompts snoring. Sleeping flat on your back causes your throat tissue to relax towards your airway, creating additional blockage and vibration.

Age and gender can be contributing reasons for snoring. Once you reach middle age, your throat can become narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat may also diminish. This can lead to snoring that worsens as you continue to age.

Before middle age, however, gender can also serve as a reason for your snoring: men are twice as likely as women to snore because of their narrower airways. This is the situation among younger adults, but after women experience menopause, they are just as likely to snore as men.

Nasal and sinus issues such as allergies or congestion can also create blocked airways by limiting inhalation, which can lead to snoring. Also, consuming alcohol or using tobacco can increase muscle relaxation and worsen snoring. Certain medications may also relax throat muscles and prompt snoring.

Chronic snoring can often indicate the presence of a more-serious medical issue such as sleep apnea. To ensure effective treatment for your snoring, speak to your doctor about suspected causes and potential treatments.

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Genetics and Its Predisposition to Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can create significant health complications for many individuals. This disorder occurs when airflow obstruction during sleep is either caused by the relaxation of the soft palate and tongue, or by disrupted brain signals failing to control the respiratory muscles.

This disrupted airflow leads to choking, gasping, and snoring in between episodes. Based on its cause, sleep apnea is referred to as obstructive or central, respectively. Several factors can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea, such as gender, obesity, and family medical history.

Family history is one predictor of obstructive sleep apnea: if you have close relatives with sleep apnea, your risk of having this form of the disorder is increased. This is most likely because sleep apnea and snoring are complex traits, affected by your genetics as well as by environmental factors.

Researchers suggest that given the interrelated pathways regulating weight and other traits involved in sleep apnea, such as ventilatory control, airway muscle function, and sleep characteristics, there are genes with multiple and diverse effects that independently impact obesity and obstructive sleep apnea traits.

In addition, negative environmental influences like periodic oxygen deprivation and sleep disruption that are produced by sleep apnea can interact with obesity genes and worsen the effects of snoring and sleep apnea.

Other genetic studies have also found that approximately 40% of the variation in the occurrence and severity of sleep apnea may be explained by familial factors. It seems most likely that specific genetic factors associated with craniofacial structure, body-fat distribution, and neural control of the upper airway muscles interact to create snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

Multiple racial studies, chromosomal mapping, familial studies, and twin studies support the possible link between obstructive sleep apnea and genetic factors; ergo, most of the risk factors involved in sleep apnea may be regarded as genetically determined, at least in part.

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Ineffectiveness of Medical Science in Dealing With Sleep Apnea

Many people who suffer from sleep apnea are unaware of the risks it poses to their health if left untreated. Unfortunately, those who do seek medical treatment do not always benefit from certain methods.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder involving interrupted breathing, choking, gasping, and snoring. It can be caused either by relaxed throat tissue or by issues with brain signaling. Despite the American medical system’s reliance on drug-based treatments, drugs and medications are generally ineffective in treating sleep apnea.

Some of the drugs that have been suggested as treatments because of their short-term relief of some sleep apnea symptoms are Fluticasone, Donepezil, Paroxetine, and Fluoxetine (Prozac). However, none of these drugs have demonstrated any substantial relief for sleep apnea, and several can create unpleasant side effects like significant weight gain.

Oral and breathing devices appear to be better treatment options for sleep apnea relief. Oral devices are sometimes suggested to reposition your tongue and lower jaw in mild cases of sleep apnea. Alternatively, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are the most common option for treating moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. Although these forms of treatment require some adjustment to get used to them, dental devices and CPAP devices can be highly effective at ensuring appropriate breathing during sleep.

Patient compliance, however, is a major obstacle for treating sleep apnea effectively. Studies have indicated that CPAP machines and other devices, although helpful when used correctly, can have low patient compliance because of their awkward structure or extensive requirements.

Additionally, although CPAP improves daytime sleepiness and cognitive performance in sleep apnea patients, its effects on prognosis, cardiovascular events, or traffic accidents is unclear.

If you are seeking treatment for sleep apnea, it is important to see your doctor to determine which methods will work best for you and to promote compliance. He or she may suggest other treatments such as surgery or supplemental oxygen and may encourage you to make lifestyle changes like losing weight to alleviate your symptoms.

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Ineffectiveness of Surgical Treatment to Cure Snoring

Those who suffer from chronic snoring can experience negative side effects such as impaired sleep and a higher risk of cardiovascular issues. In addition to implementing lifestyle changes like losing weight and quitting smoking, some snorers require medical intervention to control their condition.

The sounds of snoring are generally the result of an obstruction to the flow of air through the passages in the nose or in the back of the mouth and throat. This partially collapsible region is located near the convergence of the tongue, upper throat, soft palate, and uvula. Snoring can happen when these structures vibrate against each other during breathing, a phenomenon which is especially common while sleeping.

Although sometimes suggested as a course of treatment for snoring, surgery is rarely the wisest option. Surgical remedies for snoring are not commonly used and are only resorted to in severe cases if other methods have proved ineffective.

Traditional surgery includes procedures such as uvulopalatopharygoplasty (UPPP), thermal ablation palatoplasty (TAP), somnoplasty, tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy. These methods increase the size of your airway by removing obstructive tissues or correcting abnormalities.

Alternatively, other surgical procedures involve implanting plastic cylinders into the soft palate to stiffen it and prevent it from causing the vibrations that lead to snoring.

Unfortunately, these forms of surgery are often ineffective, as they rarely cure snoring and can involve substantial risks. Additionally, patients with severe snoring are less likely to response to surgical treatment than those with mild obstructive symptoms.

Significant weight loss, sleeping on your side, and other lifestyle changes are often more effective measures to improve snoring and related conditions like obstructive sleep apnea. If you find that your own efforts to treat snoring are not effective, consult your physician or an otolaryngologist (also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist).

He or she may recommend an oral device to bring your lower jaw or tongue forward while you sleep instead of surgery.

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