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Snoring - Causes, cures and Treatments

Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound, due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. In some cases the sound may be soft, but in other cases, it can be rather loud and quite unpleasant. Generally speaking, the structures involved are the uvula and soft palate. The irregular airflow is caused by a passageway blockage and usually due to one of the following:

Throat weakness, causing the throat to close during sleep Mispositioned jaw, often caused by tension in the muscles Fat gathering in and around the throat
Obstruction in the nasal passageway The tissues at the top of airways touching each other causing vibrations Relaxants such as alcohol or drugs relaxing throat muscles
Sleeping on one's back, which may result in the tongue being forced to
the back of the mouth.
Statistics on snoring are often contradictory, but at least 30% of adults and perhaps as many as 50% of people in some demographics snore.[1] One survey of 5713 Italian residents identified habitual snoring in 24% of men and 13.8% of women, rising to 60% of men and 40% of women aged 60 to 65 years; this suggests an increased susceptibility to snoring as age increases


Just about everyone snores occasionally. Even a baby or a beloved pet may snore! But snoring can affect the quantity and quality of your sleep. Poor sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability and increased health problems. And, if your snoring is so loud that your bed partner can't sleep, you may end up banished from the bedroom.

Sleeping in separate bedrooms doesn’t have to be the remedy for your snoring. In fact, there are many effective treatments for snoring. Discovering the cause of your snoring and finding the right cure will vastly improve your health, your relationships, and, of course, your sleep.

In This Article:

How to stop snoring
The causes of snoring
Snoring problems and relationships
Snoring relief: Self help tips and remedies
Medical cures and treatments

How to stop snoring

Snoring can often seem like a problem without a solution – especially when it is getting in the way of a good night’s sleep for you and your partner. If you want to stop snoring, it is important to consider the cause and severity of your snoring. Identifying the cause can help you choose the right cure.
It also makes sense to try some simple non-invasive treatments first to see if they will reduce or prevent your snoring. See the section on Self help tips and remedies below for more information on these snoring cures.

Sleep on your side
Elevate the head of your bed
Limit alcohol and medications
Clear your nasal passages
Lose weight

You may find that your snoring persists even after trying these changes. If your snoring results from a more serious cause, a cure may be more complex – but there are solutions. Your nights don’t have to be noisy! Read on to learn more about the possible causes of your snoring as well as treatment options. If you can uncover the cause of your snoring, you should be able to find a cure that is right for you.

The causes of snoring

People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue, or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of the tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing. Evaluating how and when you snore will help you pinpoint whether the cause of your snoring is within your control or not. Enlist your sleep partner or keep a sleep diary to help you determine the possible cause of your snoring

Where does the snore sound come from?

Snoring is caused by a narrowing of your airway, either from poor sleep posture or abnormalities of the soft tissues in your throat. A narrow airway gets in the way of smooth breathing and creates the sound of snoring

Snoring problems and relationships

Snoring can get in the way of a good night’s sleep and a healthy relationship with your spouse or partner. Many couples affected by snoring resort to sleeping in separate bedrooms in order to get a good night’s sleep. This arrangement may help both people sleep better, but it can disrupt communication and intimacy.
Mild snoring that isn't related to sleep apnea responds well to home remedies. Finding a cure for your snoring problem can result in an improved quality of life for you and your loved ones

Snoring and relationships

Sleep partners of people who snore heavily often awaken over twenty times per hour. The constant sleep disruption and excessive tiredness caused by noisy snoring takes a toll on social and physical aspects of a relationship.

Many partners of snorers decide to sleep in separate rooms, and the resulting lack of bedtime chatting and physical intimacy can lead to a strained relationship. The person who snores often becomes isolated and frustrated about a problem they seemingly have no control over.

Medical cures and treatments for snoring

If your own efforts to stop snoring do not help, consult your physician or an otolaryngologist (ENT, or ear, nose, and throat doctor). If you choose to try a dental appliance for your snoring, you will need to see a dentist specializing in these devices.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

To keep your airway open during sleep, a machine at your bedside blows pressurized air into a mask that you wear over your nose or face Dental appliances, oral devices, and lower jaw positioners Dental devices, which often resemble the mouth guards worn by athletes, can help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep.

Most dental devices are acrylic and fit inside your mouth; others fit around your head and chin to adjust the position of your lower jaw. A dentist specializing in sleep disorders can help fit you for one of these devices.


Certain surgeries, including Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy, increase the size of your airway by surgically removing tissues or correcting abnormalities. Using a scalpel, laser, or microwaving probe (radiofrequency energy), a surgeon may remove tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose, or
reconstruct the jaw.The Pillar procedure, or palatal implantation, is a new surgery which has shown promising results for snoring. Small plastic implants, less
than an inch-long in size, are inserted into the soft palate using a syringe-like instrument. The procedure is usually performed in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia, with little pain and mild side effects. Scar tissue builds up around the implants, causing the tissue of the soft palate to stiffen which ceases the vibrations that cause snoring. The down-side of this procedure, and any surgical cure, for that matter, is that it is relatively new and it is expensive. Most
insurance plans does not cover surgery for snoring.

See your doctor or dentist to discuss the medical treatments available

and to decide which might help your snoring.
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Snoring and Heart Disease

Recent studies have uncovered possibly worrisome links between snoring and heart disease.

In 2004, the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine published a study performed by medical professionals from Alfred Hospital at Melbourne, Australia. The study was headed by Prof. Matthew Naughton, the person in charge of the Sleep Disorders Center of the said hospital. The study suggests that snoring could be a possibly serious cause for heart disease like diabetes or smoking.

According to the study, sleep deprivation or interrupted sleep as well as periods of temporary breathing cessations result from severe snoring. This consequently makes the heart experience stress.

Snoring can cause people to unconsciously "wake up" from their sleep. When this happens, their blood pressure often goes up and down, an indication that the heart is put to hard work as it faces increasing resistance.

Oxygen levels are also depleted when a person snores. When oxygen levels go down, heart muscles stiffen. If this happens, the heart finds it hard to pump in its normal fashion.

The study also points out how a person determines if he's suffering from a bad case of snoring. Excessive loud snoring, experiencing breathing problems during snoring, feeling sleepy during daytime after a snoring-punctured night as well as snoring more than three times a week are just a few examples of serious cases of snoring.

A person who is experiencing any of the aforementioned cases may be suffering from sleep apnea. If his condition is left untreated, it may gradually develop into hypertension. The latter can then lead to heart disease.

While more convincing proof is needed to strengthen the link between snoring and heart disease, it wouldn't hurt if people nonetheless exhibit extra care with their sleeping habits.

Charlene J. Nuble is a healthcare professional who loves writing about women's issues, parenting, relationships and other health related stuffs. Click on the link to learn more about Snoring and Heart Disease...

Article Source:

A study has found that “heavy snorers are six times more likely to suffer a heart attack while asleep”, the Daily Express reported. It said the risk of heart disease could be increased by blood pressure, and nerve and hormonal changes caused by snoring, and that people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea are most at risk. The newspaper quoted the British Snoring and Sleep Association which said that anyone who snores should get treated immediately.

The study investigated the time of day that heart attack patients experienced their first symptoms of pain, and if they had signs of having obstructive sleep apnoea. It did not look at whether snoring leads to heart attacks. This research alone does not provide conclusive evidence. However, the researchers also refer to associated research, and a growing body of evidence that suggests that obstructive sleep apnoea can cause acute coronary syndromes, such as heart attacks. People should bear in mind that one of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea is heavy snoring, but for accurate diagnosis a full set of sleep studies are required.

Where did the story come from?
Dr Fatima H. Sert Kuniyoshi and colleagues from the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at the, Mayo Clinic and Foundation in Minnesota and from the Federal University of Espirito Santo, Vitoria, Brazil carried out the research. The study was supported by several grants, including grants from the Respironics Sleep and Respiratory Research Foundation, and National Institutes of Health.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal: the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

What kind of scientific study was this?
In this case-control study, the researchers compared people who had their first heart attack symptoms during the sleeping hours (midnight to 6.00am) with a group who had their symptoms during the day (6.00am to midnight). They were interested in comparing the frequency of obstructive sleep apnoea in these two groups.

The patients were recruited to the study when they had been admitted to the researcher’s hospital with myocardial infarction (heart attack). A diagnosis of heart attack was confirmed by standard indicators (a rise in cardiac enzymes and in a marker of heart muscle damage called troponin T). The time at which the heart attack began was given by the patient. The researchers excluded those patients who did not give this information or who were uncertain. They also excluded those who had atypical chest pain, and those who had been previously treated for obstructive sleep apnoea. They said that although consecutive patients were eligible, recruitment was based on these exclusion criteria, on the availability of research personnel, and on the patient’s consent to participate.

All the participants underwent comprehensive polysomnography, a test for diagnosing obstructive sleep apnoea, about two to three weeks after their heart attack. This requires an overnight stay in a sleep lab where the number of times a person pauses in their breathing is continuously monitored, along with the oxygen levels in their blood. The researchers recorded an apnoea-hypopnea index (AHI) for all the participants. This score is an index of severity that combines pauses in breathing with reduced depth of breathing, and gives an indication of the disruptions and desaturations (a low level of oxygen in the blood). Those who scored five or more events per hour on this index were defined as having obstructive sleep apnoea.

What were the results of the study?
Ninety-two patients (71 men) with an average age of 61 years and a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 were selected and, using a threshold of AHI of five events per hour, obstructive sleep apnoea was diagnosed in 70% of them. People with obstructive sleep apnoea were older and more likely to have diabetes, heart failure and high cholesterol.

Heart attacks occurred between midnight and 6.00am in 32% of patients with obstructive sleep apnoea, and 7% of patients without it. Patients who had heart attacks between midnight and 6.00am were six times as likely to have obstructive sleep apnoea as those who had heart attacks during the other 18 hours of the day (95% confidence interval: 1.3 to 27.3). Of the patients who had a heart attack between midnight and 6.00am, 91% had obstructive sleep apnoea.

What interpretations did the researchers draw from these results?
The researchers point out that the novel finding of this study is that patients with obstructive sleep apnoea have an increased risk of heart attack between midnight and 6.00am compared with patients without the condition. They say that the “data suggest that obstructive sleep apnoea may be a trigger for heart attack, with a striking reversal in the expected diurnal timing of heart attack onset.” Meaning that as most heart attacks usually start in the daylight hours this is unexpected.

What does the NHS Knowledge Service make of this study?
The strengths and weaknesses of this study are described by the researchers:

The study’s main limitation is in the selection process that was used to select the patients that took part. It was not randomised, and more people in the study had obstructive sleep apnoea (70%), than would be expected in the general population. This suggests that some sort of selection bias occurred, reducing the reliability of the results.
Despite the researchers claim that the two groups were well-balanced, they showed a strong tendency towards other selection biases. For example, all five of the participants with heart failure occurred in those with obstructive sleep apnoea, and they also tended to be older, diabetic, and to have higher blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. It is possible that the severity of the underlying coronary heart disease can play a part in determining when pain begins.
This study was conducted in patients who survived heart attacks and the researchers comment that their findings may not necessarily apply to people who die from cardiac disease.
The confidence interval described in the results is wide and reduces confidence in the finding that people admitted to hospital with heart attacks between midnight and 6.00am are six times as likely to have obstructive sleep apnoea as those admitted at other times of the day.
Overall this study confirms and further defines the relationship between obstructive sleep apnoea and heart attack. However, because of the small numbers of patients and the way that they were selected for the study, it is not possible to be completely confident that the strength of the association approaches a six-fold increase in risk.

Two suggestions by the researchers deserve attention: that people with the onset of MI during sleep hours should be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnoea, and that the interventions known to treat obstructive sleep apnoea should be further researched to test whether they are effective in preventing heart attacks and sudden cardiac death.
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