The noises of snoring are generated within the breathing passages.
The sounds are caused by the vibration or flapping of the tissues lining the air passages.
Noises can result from a narrowing of the nasal passage which generates a whistling noise. The vibration of the soft palate (or roof of the mouth) causes the fluttering vibration sounds. This may, in turn, have been caused by narrowness of the nasal passage causing turbulent or irregular air flow which contributes to the fluttering of the soft palate.
The tongue may fall back into the airway narrowing the airway and at times causing blockage. This may also contribute to the snoring noise.
It is most important to stress that snoring, in most patients, is due to multiple factors, each playing some part in the snoring process. Factors which are important in this regard include narrowing or blockage of the upper airway passages through anatomical or injury reasons as well as factors contributing to congestion of the soft tissues of the airways, e.g. smoking, alcohol, acid reflux from the stomach affecting the throat tissues, obesity, ageing and hormonal factors.
Snoring can contribute to fatigue and morning tiredness. This can add risks to driving and any occupation where workplace tiredness can lead to a lowering of safety. There appears to be an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke in snoring patients.
Where snoring is accompanied by significant sleep apnoea, additional health risks may occur.
Surgical assistance may include nasal, palatal or tongue and neck surgery. The surgical procedure will depend on the location of the tissues contributing to snoring.
Nasal surgery may include improving the nasal airway by straightening the nasal septum (mid line nasal cartilage partition), shrinking the lining tissue of the nose, particularly where this has been troubled by allergy or by the removal of nasal polyps. Previous nasal injury involving the external nose and the nasal septum may require correction.
The flapping of the soft palate in snoring may be assisted by palatoplasty involving either high frequency radiowave or C02 laser surgery. Newer procedures for more severe forms of snoring including radiowave shrinkage of the back of the tongue as well as procedures to bring the tongue tissues forward may be of assistance in selected cases.
The removal of excess neck fat through liposuction or liposhaving techniques may contribute to assisting the control of snoring in some cases.
Snoring may be assisted by certain dental devices which bring the jaw forward. This draws the tongue away from the soft palate. This does not help in all instances of snoring. Nasal appliances usually do not assist with snoring although they may give slight assistance with nasal airflow.
Snoring correction will assist both socially and medically. Snoring is frequently disruptive to other members of the family. It frequently disrupts the sleep quality of the household members. Snorers may also be unpopular due to disturbance of room mates on holidays or business trips. Finally, snorers may be the subject of mild ridicule.
Snoring frequently causes restless sleep and tiredness on waking. It may also cause daytime drowsiness. More severe snoring may contribute to elevated blood pressure and, with this, increased risk of stroke.
It’s difficult to make an individual prediction for a patient. Statistically, when large numbers of snorers are examined there would appear to be an increased risk of high blood pressure and the complications of this. Tiredness resulting from poor sleep due to snoring can lead to accidents particularly on the road and in the workplace.
Not all snorers have sleep apneoa , however almost all sufferers of sleep apneoa will also snore. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a medical disturbance in which episodes of blockage of the upper airway occur during sleep. These are usually associated with a reduction in the level of blood oxygen saturation. This change in oxygen is felt to be the cause of tiredness and poor sleep quality.
Weight loss is an important part of the control of snoring. After surgery, weight loss may occur due to the initial post-surgical procedure discomfort contributing to loss of appetite.
Yes. Smoking contributes to congestion of the throat tissues. It also increases acid secretion in the stomach which can irritate the throat through reflux and cause additional congestion.
Alcohol, particularly in excess and particularly at night, can lead to increased snoring. Weight gain related to alcohol consumption may be an additional factor.
It is recommended that snorers have a sleep study to determine what is causing the noise and whether it is just a noise problem or a more sinister breathing disorder like chronic obstructive sleep apneoa.
For more information go to www.homesleep.com.au
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