Why You Most Likely Snore and What You Can Do to Stop

Studies show that 55% of adults will snore at some point in their lives, either occasionally, or all the time. So, it's more than likely that even if you don't snore, you know someone who does. Generally speaking, snoring occurs when the tissues in our throat relax to the extent where they partially obstruct our airways. The narrower our airway becomes, the more forceful the airflow, and the louder the snoring. But why do some people snore and others don't? More importantly, how can we stop it?


We snore when our breathing is obstructed, like when we catch a cold, or we have a physical irregularity in the throat or nose. But the most common cause of snoring is that the muscles in and around our throat relax too much when we go to sleep. The opening in our throat narrows, making it difficult for air to travel through and because we require the same amount of air as we do when we're awake our air intake speed increases. The pressure in our nose and throat builds, our uvula and soft palate start to vibrate and produce the all too familiar snoring sound.


Most of the time, snoring is just a minor annoyance for our partners, but when it becomes loud and continuous, and breathing stops momentarily, it can become a significant concern. There are four ways that our breathing can become obstructed and snoring can occur:


Being Overweight

Bulky throat tissue from being overweight can cause you to snore. This happens a lot in children, but when their tonsils or adenoids are removed, the problem usually subsides.


Elongated Soft Palate or Uvula

Long soft palates or uvula can obstruct the opening between the throat and the nose, and when they bump up against each other your airways become blocked, and you start to snore.


Blocked Nasal Passages

When your nasal passages get blocked, more effort is needed to transfer air through them as you sleep. The non-rigid and dangling tissue in your throat collapses, and the snoring begins.


Allergies and Defects

Some people only snore during allergy season, when they have a bad cold or a sinus infection. If the person has a deviated septum (where the bone and cartilage dividing the nasal cavity is crooked or off-centre), or nasal polyps, (soft, painless growths on the lining of the sinuses) they will not only snore, they will usually suffer from sleep problems in general.


Weak Tongue and Throat Muscles

If the muscle tone in either the tongue or throat is weak, they become too relaxed and can collapse or fall back into the air passage. A lot of times this happens when we drink alcohol, or if we've taken sleeping pills. Aging will also cause the tissue and muscles in the throat and tongue to weaken, so the older we get, the more we're likely to snore.


The Impact of Snoring

People who often snore usually suffer from a lack of quality sleep which can lead to them feeling drowsy during the day. They are prone to weight gain, memory loss, high blood pressure, and may experience increased ageing of the skin. In some cases, snoring can have a negative impact on a relationship.


How to Treat Snoring

Some of the more typical treatments available include nasal strips, dental devices, anti snoring sprays, anti snore pillows and even surgery. Some natural cures for snoring are natural exercises like breathing, facial, and throat muscles strengthening exercises. Sometimes, a lifestyle change can also bring relief from snoring. Here are some activities that can be beneficial for people who snore:


Chewing Gum

Pretend to chew gum for 5 to 10 minutes every day. This exercise strengthens your tongue, jaws and mouth.


Tongue Stretch

Stretch your tongue as far out of your mouth as you, in all directions. Gradually increase the duration of the tongue stretch.


Open Wide

For a few seconds, open your mouth as wide as you can and then close making sure your lips are sealed tight. Repeat 8 to 10 times daily. This exercise strengthens your throat muscles, so they don't relax so much that they block the airway.


Tongue Slide

Looking forwards, push the tip of your tongue against the back of your top row of teeth. Slide your tongue backwards. Repeat ten times. This exercise will strengthen your tongue and throat muscles.


Some other healthy tips that may help against snoring are to maintain a good sitting posture at work, take a daily exercise like walking and stretching, laugh as much as you can and try to retain a happy attitude. Also, smile a lot, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.


Snoring and Surgery

There is no one-size-fits-all surgical procedure to cure snoring. The operation has to be tailored to the individual patient. The most critical factor in analysing which method will be most effective is first to assess where exactly is the blockage. Modern practices involve a technique called DISE, Drug-Induced Sleep Endoscopy, whereby the patient is put asleep for about ten minutes by being given a medication that produces the most natural form of sleep. An endoscope is inserted into the patient's nose, all the way up to the laryngeal inlet, (the opening which connects the larynx and the pharynx), to find out where and what is causing the blockage.


Snoring and Sleep Apnea. What's the difference?

Someone who snores is a person who 'breathes noisily' during sleep. Snoring doesn't necessarily mean that they suffer from sleep apnea, which is a condition where breathing momentarily cuts off. The combination of snoring and breathing problems can lead to serious health problems. Referred to as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the condition lowers oxygen levels in the blood, which in turn causes the heart to work much harder than it should. This leads to a significant rise in blood pressure and leaves the sufferer prone to potential heart attacks and strokes. When in doubt, always speak to your healthcare professional.


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