Snoring occurs when the muscles in your air passage relax during sleep, obstructing the airway and causing a loud, vibrating sound. As air struggles to pass through, your breathing becomes louder.
Treatment Options for Snoring
While over-the-counter snoring treatments are readily available, they may not effectively address the issue. If you’re struggling to manage your snoring, consider trying these methods to reduce or eliminate it.
Non-surgical Treatments for Occasional Snorers
Change your sleeping position: Avoid sleeping on your back, as it can cause your tongue to fall to the back of your mouth and narrow the airway. Instead, sleep on your side or use pillows to prop yourself up if necessary.
Address nasal congestion: Always clear congestion caused by allergies.
Avoid alcohol and certain sleep medications: Refrain from consuming alcohol and taking benzodiazepines before bedtime, as they can relax airway tissues and worsen snoring.
Lose excess weight: Shedding extra pounds can reduce pressure on the airway and alleviate snoring.
Get adequate sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Quit smoking: Giving up smoking can improve your overall health and decrease snoring.
Try nasal sprays or homeopathic remedies: These treatments can help open your air passage while you sleep, especially if your snoring is mild.
If your snoring persists despite trying these techniques, and you have episodes of paused breathing or daytime sleepiness, consult a doctor. Snoring accompanied by these symptoms could indicate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious sleep disorder that often requires treatment.
Non-surgical Treatments for Severe Snoring
If your snoring is a symptom of OSA, your doctor may recommend the following non-surgical treatments:
a) Oral appliances: Anti-snoring devices can prevent your tongue and soft palate from collapsing to the back of your mouth, keeping the air passage open. A dental specialist will help you find the right fit and position for the device and monitor your oral health during regular check-ups. Your sleep specialist will also ensure the appliance is working effectively. However, these devices may cause excessive salivation, dry mouth, jaw pain, or facial discomfort.
b) Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): This treatment involves wearing a mask over your nose or mouth during sleep, which delivers pressurized air from a bedside pump to keep your airway open. CPAP is highly effective for curing snoring, even OSA-related snoring, but some users find the noise and sensation of the machine difficult to adjust to.
Surgical Treatments for Snoring
In some cases, minimally invasive surgery may be necessary to remove excess tissue or correct a structural issue. These procedures, which often allow patients to return home the same day, include:
Upper airway surgery: Various procedures can open your upper airway and reduce its narrowing during sleep, such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). This procedure involves anesthetizing the patient and removing excess tissues from the throat, tightening the airway. Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) is another option, which shifts the upper and lower jaws forward to open the airway. Radiofrequency tissue ablation uses low-intensity radiofrequency signals to reduce tissue in the soft palate, tongue, or nose. Hypoglossal nerve stimulation is a newer technique that applies a stimulus to the nerve controlling the tongue’s forward movement, preventing it from obstructing the airway during sleep. Note that the effectiveness of these surgeries varies between individuals, and predicting the outcome can be challenging.
Outlook for Snorers
Occasional snoring due to a cold or allergies is normal and typically harmless. However, loud, frequent snoring may indicate sleep apnea, a severe sleep disorder. Chronic snoring can lead to various health complications, including:
- Decreased blood oxygen levels.
- High blood pressure.
- Heart attack.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Daytime fatigue.
- Difficulty concentrating.
While snoring may sometimes be a minor issue, it can also signify a more serious medical condition or cause disruption for your partner, potentially leading to a strain in your relationship. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize or eliminate snoring. This article aims to help you explore different methods and find the one that works best for you.