Home Symptoms Snoring: causes and help

Snoring: causes and help

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 351 views

Snoring (rhonchopathy) is a widespread phenomenon: with increasing age, almost every second adult is affected. The noise level at night is often in no way inferior to that of a lorry roaring past – a problem especially for the snorer’s bedmate. The reason for snoring is the slackening throat muscles during sleep. The soft palate and uvula then flutter with every breath, which creates the annoying snoring noises. Here you can read everything you need to know about snoring and what you can do about it.

quick overview

  • Description: Simple/primary snoring (without breathing pauses) or sleep apnea syndrome (with breathing pauses). In the latter, a distinction is made between obstructive sleep apnea and the rarer central sleep apnea.
  • Causes : Narrowed upper airways due to respiratory infections or allergic reactions (simple snoring) or due to anatomical features such as enlarged tonsils (obstructive sleep apnea). Central sleep apnea is caused by a disruption in the central respiratory drive in the brain . Alcohol, medications such as sleeping pills and antihistamines and sleeping on your back are considered to increase snoring.
  • Possible consequences : Sleep apnea (especially obstructive sleep apnea) is a health hazard and can lead to high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia or a heart attack, for example.
  • Tips: For simple snoring: Lose weight if you are overweight, no alcohol before going to bed, early dinner, do not sleep on your back.
  • Treatment: Medical treatment options for persistent snoring: snoring splints, surgical interventions (e.g. tonsillectomy, implants to stiffen the soft palate), nasal breathing apparatus for sleep apnea.

Snoring: description

With simple (primary) snoring , narrowed airways increase the flow rate of the air flowing in and out. Together with the muscles of the mouth and throat, which are relaxed during sleep, the uvula and soft palate then flutter when inhaling and exhaling. This creates the snoring noises. The narrowing of the airways during simple snoring is often the result of an infection in the upper airways (e.g. a cold, acute sinusitis) or allergic reactions. Breathing pauses do not occur with simple snoring.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is associated with brief pauses in breathing during sleep. Triggers here are also narrowed upper airways. This narrowing is usually due to anatomical peculiarities in the ear, nose and throat area. These include enlarged tonsils, an enlarged tongue, an enlarged uvula, a lower jaw that is too small, nasal polyps, chronic sinusitis and a deviated nasal septum. The brief pauses in breathing cause the brain to wake up: This is associated, among other things, with an increase in muscle tension, which opens the narrowed airways – the person concerned takes a deep breath, usually associated with a loud snoring noise. However, the wake-up reaction usually does not lead to the person concerned waking up properly. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs mainly in overweight men, especially in old age.

With central sleep apnea , snoring noises and pauses in breathing also occur during sleep. However, the brief pauses in breathing are not caused by the obstruction of the upper airways. Rather, central sleep apnea is based on a disturbance in the respiratory drive in the brain: the muscles in the chestand diaphragm is inactive during sleep, so the affected person takes too little and not deep enough breath. The resulting lack of oxygen alerts the brain, which immediately initiates the wake-up response described above so that the affected person can breathe again. Central sleep apnea syndrome is usually the result of cardiovascular disease. It occurs mainly in men and in older age. However, central sleep apnea is rarer and less dangerous than obstructive sleep apnea.

snoring enhancer

Various factors can increase snoring. These include, for example:

  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • certain medications, such as sleeping pills or antihistamines (medicines used to treat allergies)
  • Sleeping on your back (in this sleeping position, the base of the tongue sinks backwards)

Risks of sleep apnea

The nocturnal breathing pauses in sleep apnea (especially obstructive sleep apnea) are a health hazard. Affected patients have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial diseases, heart attacks and strokes. In addition, many suffer from heartburn. In addition, sleep apnea patients are more likely to cause accidents because they are often tired during the day due to the disturbed night’s sleep and tend to fall asleep (e.g. at the steering wheel).

What helps against snoring?

A wide variety of remedies against snoring are offered, especially on the Internet, such as snoring sprays, snoring pacifiers or snoring lozenges. The effectiveness of none of these products has been proven. In addition, the anti-snoring agents are relatively expensive.

Therefore, you should rely on other methods to counteract snoring. Sometimes simple measures that you can carry out yourself are enough. In persistent cases or if there are underlying diseases or anatomical peculiarities, the dentist or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist can help you.

Self-help tips

You can often do something successfully yourself against simple snoring. Try the following anti-snoring tips:

  • If you are overweight, losing weight is the most effective way to stop snoring. With the kilos, the fat in the neck area, which promotes snoring, also disappears .
  • Avoid alcohol two hours before bedtime. Because this reduces breathability and thus promotes snoring.
  • Eat dinner early – eating late reduces sleep quality.
  • Sedatives, sleeping pills and antihistamines also reduce breathing activity and can provoke snoring. Avoid these if possible.
  • Don’t sleep on your back. A tennis ball sewn into the back of your pajamas can help.
  • If you don’t like sleeping on your side, it’s best to lie on your back with your upper body slightly elevated.
  • Learn a wind instrument to train your throat and palate muscles. The traditional Australian instrument didgeridoo is particularly well suited for this.

help from the dentist

Some patients benefit from a snoring splint . This is a bite splint individually adapted by the dentist for the upper and lower jaw. It keeps the airways open by slightly pushing the lower jaw forward. This also shifts the tongue and palate. However, the snoring splint is quite expensive and does not always help. How effective it is in individual cases can hardly be predicted – it is best to try it out.

surgical interventions

Depending on the cause, snoring can sometimes only be eliminated with an operation by an ENT doctor. The most common anti-snoring procedures include:

  • tonsil surgery
  • Paranasal Sinus Surgery
  • Nasal Septum Surgery
  • turbinate surgery
  • soft palate plastics
  • Stiffening of the soft palate (implants)
  • Operations on the base of the tongue
  • Operations on the hyoid bone

Therapy for sleep apnea

If you suffer from sleep apnea, the oxygen supply must be guaranteed continuously during sleep. This can be done reliably with the help of nasal breathing devices that work with overpressure ( nasal continuous positive airway pressure, nCPAP ). Air is supplied to the sleeping person via a mask. The increased pressure prevents the slack throat from closing during sleep.

A variant of nCPAP is APAP therapy (Automated Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) . Here, the breathing apparatus continuously adjusts the pressure as needed. The method makes sense if the breathing stops only occur in certain sleeping positions or sleep phases.

In particularly severe cases of sleep apnea, BIPAP therapy (Bi Positive Airway Pressure) is an option. The pressure generated during inhalation and exhalation can be adjusted separately.

Snoring: when should you see a doctor?

Snoring should generally be checked out by a doctor . It is best to go to an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT doctor) or to a clinic that has a snoring center. Especially if you snore loudly and irregularly, you shouldn’t wait to see a doctor. It could be a breathing disorder (such as obstructive sleep apnea) that can endanger your health.

It is also highly recommended to see a doctor if you suffer from chronic fatigue , even though you get enough sleep (six to eight hours) at night. This could also be a sign of sleep apnea, which is dangerous to health.

If your child snores , you should also take them to the doctor. In most cases, enlarged pharyngeal or palatine tonsils or nasal polyps are the cause of snoring and should be treated.

Snoring: what does the doctor do?

In an initial consultation to collect the medical history (anamnesis), the doctor asks those affected and, if possible, their bedmates for details on the disturbing snoring noises. Possible questions are for example:

  • How often does snoring occur?
  • Which factors increase snoring (e.g. alcohol, nicotine, sinusitis)?
  • How does the snoring develop (regular/irregular, frequency, volume)?
  • Do you wake up at night with shortness of breath?
  • Do you have daytime sleepiness?

This is followed by an examination of the nose and throat to determine the cause of the snoring.

In order to determine whether sleep apnea is present, the doctor will give the patient a snoring test device to take home. It analyzes breathing during sleep and snoring.

Once the doctor has found the cause of the snoring , he will recommend a suitable treatment (e.g. weight loss, snoring splints, surgery, etc.).

You may also like

Leave a Comment