MD REVIEW

Snoring: More Than a Sleep Irritant

Involuntary Safari Trip

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You can hear a lion’s roar from a dis­tance of five miles. It can reach up to a whopping 114 decibels loud. That’s impressive! Right? Do you know that a human can nearly sound like a roaring lion while asleep? Not all people are capable of this superpower. It’s just the gifted ones—those blessed with the power of snoring.

Roommates, spouses, siblings, and parents—your whole coterie may suffer through your snorts and rumbles. With average noise decibels of 50–65 and average peaks reaching 80–90 decibels, it is hard for anyone to ignore your roars. That level of sound is comparable to heavy traffic or a power lawn mower. Others within your habitat feel like they are in a wild animal safari while you are slumbering.

Snoring is a common phenomenon that may have underlying medical causes. A partner in your bed may try to silence you with sleep-disrupting elbow jabs. While you’re awake, keep reading to find answers to questions like, “Why do I snore?” and “What are risk factors?”

The medical branch of otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) has much to say about the loud breathing sounds you make while asleep. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, up to 45% of adults in the U.S. snore. Women with menopausal syndrome have a higher tendency to snore. But why are you snoring?

Snoring is the result of a constricted or blocked airway. The airway constriction causes your palate and other nasal structures to vibrate, making a rattling sound. The phenomenon is more common in over­weight or obese men and adults above 50 years of age. There are four general causes of snoring.

Obesity

When discussing snoring, experts measure obesity using neck and waist circumference. According to a study, there is a correlation between sleep breath­ing disorder and obesity.

Sleep Deprivation

A large cohort study concludes that a shorter duration of sleep increases the risk of obesity. Obesity, in turn, increases the risk of acquiring sleep-disordered breath­ing (SDB)—snoring.

Oral-Nasal Defects

Anatomical issues of structures within the mouth and nose can lead to snoring. According to a pilot study, pediatric snoring was greatly reduced after the surgi­cal removal of defective adenoids and tonsils (adeno­tonsillec­tomy). This shows that abnormal oral and nasal tissues can be underlying factors for snoring.

Sleep Apnea

Stop Dangerous Snore

In about 75% of cases, snoring relates to sleep apnea. There is shortness of breath while sleeping. Obstruc­tive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea.

It is a serious disorder that first manifests itself as snoring. Airflow reduces to less than 90%. There are various causes for a narrow airway. This includes anatomical obstructions (adenoid and tonsil swelling) and obesity.

The roof of your mouth is the palate. Muscles in the back of the palate are the uvula. A 2018 study, found links between obstructive sleep apnea and reduced muscular tone of the palate and uvula.

There are short spans of inadequate breathing for about 10 seconds. This reduces oxygen and raises carbon dioxide levels. These hypoxic periods awaken you to gasp for air with snorting or choking sounds.

In this disease, throat muscles relax and block your way during sleep. The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:

Signs and Symptoms

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Awaking, gasping for air
  • Episodes of choking
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat

Risk Factors

Obstructive sleep apnea can develop in anyone. Otolaryngologists identify the following risk factors.

Obesity – According to a meta-analysis, there is a strong relationship between obesity and obstructive sleep apnea. Obese people usually have a deposition of fat around the upper airway.

Narrow Airways and Nasal Congestion – Your airway might get compromised due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Patients with chronic nasal congestion have a greater risk of acquiring sleep apnea.

Smoking – Smokers have poor respiratory health and lung conditions that are conducive to sleep apnea.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions – People with certain underlying medical conditions can suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. These conditions include:

Complications Arising From Sleep

Treating sleep apnea is crucial, as it can lead to health complications. The most common infirmities induced by this air shortage are:

Heart Problems – Obstructive sleep apnea can increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease. In fact, this disease was present in 30% of the sleep apnea patients evaluated.

According to a study, sleep apnea can increase the amount of oxidative stress in the body. This leads to different complications, including cardiovascular disease.

Daytime Sleepiness – Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) face the problem of fatigue and sleepiness during the day. This leads to a lack of focus and concentration at work. Daytime sleepiness and fatigue are common manifestations of OSA in obese men.

Interference With Effect of Medicines – Giving anesthesia and sleeping pills to OSA patients is tough because the drugs seem to worsen the condition. Narcotics and sedatives increase the obstruction by relaxing the muscles of the upper airway.

Good Night

Your nocturnal roars do more than irritate co­habit­ants. They risk your health. Don’t subject others to thunderous jungle conditions. Get a sleep evaluation from an otolaryngologist or try some of the practical suggestions in the following article.

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