Do you snore? Or do you sleep with someone who does?
Not only does snoring make you sound as though you’re cutting wood with a chainsaw – hence the term sawing logs – but it can also be dangerous.
Whether you snore or you know someone who does, here the possible causes of snoring and a few solutions so that you can alleviate the problem for good.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring is caused by one or more of the following problems, in many cases.
• An anatomical defect, such as a narrow breathing passage
• A tongue or jaw that is positioned too far back and closes off the airway
• Larger than average tonsils
• A bulky uvula (the part that hangs down in the back of your throat)
• Too much fat tissue blocking your airway
Other causes of snoring include being overweight, allergies or deformities of the cartilage of the nose.
“In addition to biological factors, there are a few lifestyle choices that can also contribute to snoring.”
As she puts it, “These cases of snoring are harmless, for the most part. Sure, it’s annoying for anyone sleeping near you, but it’s unlikely to harm your health.”
There is one case of snoring that isn’t so harmless, and that’s when you suffer from sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea, while common, is nothing you want to ignore.
The condition causes you to stop breathing while you slumber.
If you’re thinking that can’t be good, you’re right.
Some people who experience sleep apnea only quit breathing for a second or two.
But then there are those cases where people stop breathing for several long minutes. That’s when things can take a turn for the worse.
What is really frightening is that some sufferers of the condition experience traumatic sleep disturbance several times during the night, sometimes over 30 times an hour.
Sleep apnea not only keeps you from resting properly, but it can wreak havoc on your entire day. You’ll wake up groggy, and you may find yourself falling asleep at odd times during your daylight hours. It increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and many other illnesses.
If you have a job, like construction, truck driver or pilot, you will want to get tested for sleep apnea right away so that you don’t put yourself or anyone else in danger.
Unfortunately, many people who suffer from sleep apnea are never diagnosed.
But what if you want to get diagnosed? What can you do?
How Do You Know If You Have Sleep Apnea?
If you are wondering if someone you know is suffering from the condition, listen carefully as he or she sleeps. You’ll hear the person wake up suddenly with a loud snort or inhale as they struggle to breathe.
If you fear that you might be suffering from the condition, have someone listen to you while you sleep to see if you do the same thing.
Of course, there are more scientific ways of finding out if you are suffering from this debilitating disorder.
Testing for Sleep Apnea
To get to the bottom of your snoring condition and to test for sleep apnea, you might want to ask your physician to refer you to a sleep clinic.
An alternative is to ask your dental professional about a home test.
The Medibyte Machine
The Medibyte is a portable polysomnography (PSG) machine that can test for sleep apnea.
You will be given the machine to take home with you. While you sleep, the machine will test for things like apneic events, pulse rate, oxygen levels, sleeping positions and your snoring volume.
Many people prefer this because they can sleep in the comfort and privacy of their own bed and home. However, only a physician can diagnose sleep apnea but a dentist can use a portable PSG device to establish a baseline of their sleep behavior so treatment can be adjusted and verified.
Oral appliances made by a dentist are a great way to treat snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. They can be adjusted as needed and are a wonderful alternative to a CPAP machine.
How to Alleviate Snoring
If you snore, or you suspect that you do (as in others have told you), you can try to diminish the problem by:
• Losing weight
• Avoiding cigarettes and alcohol before bed
• Try resting on your side as opposed to your back to prevent your tongue from blocking your airway
You can also get fitted for a custom oral appliance that can be made to hold the lower jaw forward so that your tongue can’t block your airway.
My patients prefer this type of appliance because it feels much more comfortable than the traditional CPAP machine, which has long been used to treat patients with sleep apnea.
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, take the sleep apnea questionnaire, then make an appointment with a dentist.
By eliminating snoring and by getting help with your sleep apnea, you’ll successfully restore your sleep and improve the quality of your life.