“Hey stop snoring!! I am unable to sleep,” shouted my generally beautiful wife. I got up with a startle. “Why was I snoring?” I kept thinking.
Do you also face the same problem? Let’s find out what is snoring? Why do we snore? And what are the remedies to stop snoring?
What is Snoring ?
Snoring is a harsh sound heard when we sleep and this occurs due to vibration of tissues when air flows past through them in the throat. Almost everyone snores but it can be a chronic problem or a serious health issue to some. It can also be a nuisance to your partner or members of the family.
Snoring is not a big health issue unless it is associated with a sleep disorder called the Apnea or obstructive sleep apnea. (OSA) and the following symptoms are observed which hints you to visit a doctor.
Breathing pauses while you sleep
Lack of concentration
On waking up in the morning you have a sore throat.
Lack of proper sleep
Choking or gasping while sleeping due to loss of breath
High blood pressure
Chest pain especially during the night
Loud snoring which disturbs your partner.
Accidents while driving due to lack of sleep.
In children also we observe this disorder and the symptoms involved in children are poor performance in the school, inattention, hyperactivity, sleepiness and disturbing or unpleasant behavior. Child should be shown to doctor if child frequently snores.
Why do we snore?
We snore due to a number of factors like consumption of alcohol, cold, allergies, weight, etc. People with throat and nasal tissue or floppy tissue which is prone to vibrate more often snore.
When we doze from a light sleep to a deep sleep, the tissues in the throat relax in such a way that they partially block the airway and vibrate. As the airway gets narrower, the airflow becomes more forceful which causes to snore louder. The conditions that affect the airway which causes snoring are:
Anatomy of the mouth
A low, thick, soft palate narrows the airway; extra tissues in the back of the throats narrow the airways; and
if uvula, the triangular tissue hanging from the soft palate is elongated, airflow is obstructed, vibration increases and snoring becomes louder.
Alcohol: Throat muscles are relaxed and natural defenses are decreased on consumption of alcohol which obstructs the airflow causing us to snore.
Nasal congestion: Chronic nasal congestion also causes snoring.
Sleep deprivation Not getting enough sleep can lead to further throat relaxation.
Sleep position Snoring is typically most frequent and loudest when sleeping on the back as gravity's effect on the throat narrows the airway.
Genetic factors: Extra throat tissue as well as enlarged tonsils, large adenoids, long soft palate or long uvula.
Obesity, Pregnancy: Obese and pregnant people have extra bulky throat issue which results in snoring.
Allergies: Allergies lead to congestion in the nose which again leads to snoring.
Enlarged tonsils: Enlarged tonsils are also one of the main causes of snoring.
How to diagnose Snoring ?
Your partner is the one who can exactly tell whether you snore or not and how loud you snore. When you visit a doctor for snoring issue, doctor may do a physical exam to check for swollen tonsils, uvula and palate. Doctor may also advise for some tests to know the exact reason of snoring. Some of the tests are:
Imaging Tests: X - rays, MRI or CT scans help to diagnose what is blocking the airway due to which you snore.
Study of your sleep: A machine monitor can be used at home or a lab test can be done called polysomnography wherein the heart rate, breathing, oxygen levels, leg movements and brain activity can be monitored and recorded.
This helps doctor to recognize the exact reason for snoring and provide a solution.
Home remedies to stop snoring:
Snoring can be stopped in many ways. The best remedies are by changing our lifestyle, for example, not eating before bedtime, elevating head by 4 inches using an extra pillow prevents snoring.
Some of the natural solutions to stop snoring are:
By changing the sleeping position from sleeping on the side rather than sleeping on the back helps in stopping snoring.
Weight loss also helps in stopping snoring in few people.
Avoiding alcohol also stops snoring.
If there is a nasal congestion or cold, a hot shower before bed reduces the congestion and stops snoring.
When dehydrated, secretions in the nose and soft palate become stickier. Hence, we have to keep ourselves hydrated.
Follow good sleeping habits. Poor sleeping habits is equivalent to drinking alcohol, it makes muscles floppier which makes us snore.
Keep the room clean so that there will be no nasal congestion which gives rise to snoring.
What are the medical remedies for snoring ?
Snoring which cannot be treated naturally or when the source of the problem cannot be treated, professional treatments are advised to stop snoring. Some of them are:
Surgery: To tighten and trim excess airways, septoplasty surgery is done.
Laser surgery: To shorten soft palate and remove uvula, laser surgery is done.
Masks or CPAP machines: To eliminate sleep apnea and snoring, pressurized air is directed into the airway.
Palatal implants: Braided polyester strands are injected into palate to stiffen the palate and reduce snoring.
Dental Mouthpieces: To position between soft palate and tongue, which keeps the airway open, dental mouthpieces are used.
Nasal strips: Nasal strips are used to prevent snoring.
Surgical procedures are often permanent solutions. Masks, mouth pieces and nasal strips have to be used regularly.
Some foods which when eaten regularly help stop snoring.
Honey : A strong anti microbe which soothes and opens nasal pathway and allows air to flow smoothly helps stop snoring.
Peppermint: It has antispasmodic properties which helps reduce swelling in nose and throat. Drinking peppermint tea or inhaling steam with infused peppermint leaves or essential oil before bedtime stops snoring.
Garlic : Raw garlic has anti inflammatory properties which when consumed in night helps stop snoring.
Milk : Turmeric milk prevents inflammation in nose and throat which helps stop snoring.
Onions : Onions have anti oxidants which fight infection – causing bacteria keeping nose and throat clear of congestion
Pineapple : It is a natural decongestant and stops the nose and throat to flare up.
In short, we need to eat those foods which ease the nasal congestion and broaden the airway.
The main reason for snoring is narrowing of airways during breathing. Measures have to be taken in such a way that we clear the nasal congestion and avoid all those foods or lifestyle which narrows the airways and hence can stop snoring. If symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea is seen consult the doctor immediately especially if it is observed in the children.
A good sleep is necessary to work hard and achieve our dreams. As an Irish Proverb says, " A good laugh and long sleep are the best cure for anything." Sleep peacefully by following the remedies and be energetic all day.