What Causes Snoring
Snoring is caused when the flow of air through your airway is restricted. Think of a hose that is kinked or partially blocked: when the way is clear, the flow is smooth and silent, but when the path gets restricted, the flow gets turbulent and noisy. There are many potential sources of restriction, including:
- Soft palate
People are quick to blame the nose for snoring, but the loudest and most dangerous snoring occurs in the mouth and throat. And that’s what we can help treat.
Dangers of Snoring
Snoring can be a serious danger to you and those around you. Possible risks of snoring include:
- Disputes and domestic violence
- Falling asleep while driving
- Sleep apnea
Snoring can be very disruptive to a marriage. Some people cite it as a leading cause of divorce, and we know that it leads to terrible disputes and sometimes even domestic violence. A sleeping partner of a snorer loses about an hour a night of sleep due to snoring. A loss of sleep makes it harder to empathize with your partner, and makes it hard to have a reasonable discussion. This problem is made more serious because the snorer isn’t sleeping well, either. A refusal to get snoring treatment can often serve as a trigger that pushes a spouse over the edge, precipitating a violent attack.
Because snorers aren’t sleeping very well, they are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel. According to research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), snorers are about 1.5 times more likely to fall asleep at the wheel. The risk is compounded when you are also getting less sleep at night. In a survey, 8.5% of drivers reported falling asleep behind the wheel if they said they snore and typically get 6 hours of sleep a night or less, compared to just 2% of drivers who didn’t snore and got 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
The danger of falling asleep at the wheel and getting in a car accident is even worse if you have sleep apnea. Snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea, and sleep apnea can increase your risk of being in a traffic accident up to five times. That’s in addition to cardiovascular risks, metabolic disorders, and psychological conditions associated with sleep apnea.
Home Remedies for Snoring
Important: Don’t try home remedies for snoring until you’ve been evaluated for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea cannot be treated with these approaches, and you might eliminate the sound but still be at risk from the breathing problems.
There are many approaches to treating snoring at home that can be effective. First, try changing your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back makes your airway more likely to narrow and collapse. If you have difficulty making the switch, try changing your pillow so it’s more comfortable to sleep on your side (sleeping on your stomach can be bad for TMJ). If you’re still having difficulty, try sewing a tennis ball into the back of your pajamas. This will help train you to stop sleeping on your back.
Also watch what you eat and drink. Avoid alcohol for several hours before bedtime, because this can further relax the tissues of your throat. Foods to which you have a mild allergy can trigger swelling in the nose and throat, which can increase snoring.
Make sure your air is clean, as airborne irritants can cause significant swelling and mucus obstruction.
Consider quitting smoking. Smoking is one of the worst irritants for your airway and it is linked to significantly worse snoring.
Finally, consider getting more exercise. Exercise in general can help tone the tissues of the airway, making them more resilient and less likely to collapse. Exercises that specifically target the airway, such as singing or playing a wind instrument can be even more helpful.
Effective Snoring Treatment
If you are not having luck with the at-home remedies for snoring, we offer a highly effective snoring treatment. Custom oral appliances can be used to alter the way your tongue and throat hang back into your airway when you sleep. This can keep your airway open and reduce or eliminate your snoring.
During your exam, we will obtain detailed information about your airway when waking and asleep. We will identify the precise cause of your snoring and recommend a snoring treatment tailored to the cause of your snoring. We will also be able to tell you when you won’t benefit from the treatments we offer and refer you to the treatment that will work for you.
We even offer treatment that allows you to record how much you’re using it: compliance recording with oral appliance use. This means that you can get a comfortable, convenient remedy for snoring and sleep apnea that your doctor, insurance company, or employer can track to ensure you’re using it properly. That will keep them off your back.
Avoid Over-the-Counter Remedies
There are many over-the-counter remedies advertised for snoring. Few benefit from these remedies, and several of them can be harmful. In particular, oral appliances offered over-the-counter can put your jaw in an unhealthy position, causing or worsening TMJ. They can actually lead to worse breathing at night, and cause poorer sleep.
Noninvasive home remedies are the only recommended alternative to professional snoring treatments.
To learn more about the ideal snoring treatment for you, please call (229) 242-5511 or email today for an appointment.