You’ve heard it time and time again, “You snore”. Perhaps it’s true; maybe you do have a snoring problem. But why should that bother you?
Often it isn’t until a spouse or friend encourages someone to go see a doctor that he realizes that snoring is more than an annoyance; it can be a tell-tale of a serious health issue such as sleep apnea.
So, why do people snore anyway? The sound we hear when someone snores is caused when the airway is obstructed, making the walls of the throat vibrate as air passes the blockage. This is why so many people snore when they have a cold, or if they have allergies. Sometimes there is a structural problem such as a deviated septum or an overly long soft palate.
Being overweight also contributes to a snoring problem. The excess tissue around the throat blocks the airway, and the lack of muscle tone allows the tongue and throat to relax too much, allowing them to collapse into the airway. Snoring gets worse as you get older.
When your airway is blocked you can actually stop breathing for short periods of time. This is called obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea may cause you to stop breathing hundreds of times through the night. Additionally, each time your breathing stops your body jerks you awake, allowing you to correct the blockage and start breathing again. Often you are not even aware of this night-wakening, and end up feeling tired in the morning despite a full night’s sleep. Sleep apnea increases your blood pressure, and increases the risk of heart attack. There are tests available from your health-care professional to find out if sleep apnea is occurring, and it would be good to check that possibility out. But what can you do in the meantime to stop snoring?
The simplest snoring cure of course would be to lose weight. But weight loss takes time, and the sooner you do something about your snoring, the better. Avoiding alcohol or food before bed helps keep you from snoring. You can also try raising the level of your head during the night by adding some pillows, or try sleeping on your side.
There are several surgical snoring cures available, but do any of them help? It depends on the cause of your snoring problem. If the problem is your uvula (that little dangly thing at the back of your throat), or your soft palate, you could get uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or laser-assisted uvula palatoplasty which shrinks the tissue at the back of the throat. There is also surgery available to open the airways through your nose or to open up your throat. But surgery is very invasive, and doesn’t always work.
Homeopathic snore remedies can be quite attractive. From snoring pills to aromatherapy treatments there are dozens of snoring remedies on the market. For example, if a dry throat causes snoring, you can try a throat spray that keeps your throat moist. You could spend months, and a lot of money, trying different types of pills to see which, if any, might work.
Nasal strips that open the airway are an easy-to-find solution. Unfortunately, while they may help with moderate snoring, they only work for snoring that is caused by a blocked nasal passageway.
Some people snore because their jaw tends to drop back, causing the tongue to fall into the throat, blocking the airway. The doctor-recommended therapy for this kind of sleep apnea and snoring involves wearing a mask at night that creates a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The only problem with this is that the mask can be uncomfortable and the system is not terribly portable.
Another solution is to try a mouthpiece that works by holding the jaw in place rather than allowing it to fall back, thus keeping the tongue from dropping back and causing snoring and sleep apnea. The best devices are custom built by dentists and cost quite a bit of money. A less expensive alternative is to try a “boil and bite” device such as SnoreMeds. This mouthpiece is self-fitted to the mouth, and costs under $50.
Oral devices such as SnoreMeds can be uncomfortable at first. You may find that you salivate more than usual, and that your throat gets a bit dry. After a while most people get used to the sensation of wearing a mouthpiece to sleep.
Of course, Snoremeds is only a temporary snoring solution. It is best to head to the dentist and have a custom-made anti-snoring device made that is perfectly fitted for your needs.
Whatever temporary solution you choose, be sure to work on losing weight and having healthy eating and sleeping habits. Most cases of snoring will go away once you are at a healthy weight.