Ohio ENT & Allergy

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4275 Steels Pointe Rd.
Stow, OH 44224

4016 Massillon Road, Suite C
Uniontown, OH 44685

Snoring and Sleep Disorders

Did you know?

45 percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. However, problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight persons, and usually grows worse with age.

There are more than 300 registered patents in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as cures for snoring, many of which are variations on the old idea of sewing a sock holding a tennis ball on the pajama back to force the snorer to sleep on his side. (Snoring is often worse when a person sleeps on his back). Some devices reposition the lower jaw forward; some open nasal air passages; a few others have been designed to condition a person not to snore by producing unpleasant stimuli when snoring occurs. Nevertheless, the truth about snoring is that it is not under your control whatsoever. The majority of anti-snoring devices work only because they keep you awake.

What Causes Snoring?

The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway (see illustration) where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing.

People who snore may suffer from:

Is Snoring Serious?

Ohio ENT & Allergy asserts that snoring can be a serious problem both socially and medically! Socially, a snorer may become the cause of resentfulness as a result of contributing to others sleepless nights. But more importantly, medically, snoring disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of appropriate rest. When snoring is severe, it can also cause long-term health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

What is obstructive sleep apnea you ask? When loud snoring is interrupted by frequent episodes of completely obstructed breathing, it is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Serious episodes last more than ten seconds each and occur more than seven times per hour. Apnea patients may experience 30 to 300 of such events per night. These episodes can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing the heart to pump harder.

However, the immediate effect of sleep apnea is that the snorer must sleep lightly and keep his muscles tense in order to keep airflow to the lungs. Because the snorer does not get an ample amount of rest, he or she may be sleepy during the day, which may impair job performance and make he or she a hazardous driver or equipment operator. More serious yet, after many years with this disorder, elevated blood pressure and heart enlargement may occur.

Can Heavy Snoring be Cured?

Heavy snorers, those who snore in any position or are disruptive to the family, should seek medical advice to ensure that sleep apnea is not a problem. Patients should be referred to an otolaryngologist to provide a thorough examination of the nose, mouth, throat, palate, and neck. A sleep study in a laboratory environment may also be necessary to determine how serious the snoring is, and what effects it has on the snorer's health.

Snoring Treatment

Treatment depends on the diagnosis. An examination can reveal the cause of snoring, whether it is nasal allergies, infection, deformity, or tonsils and adenoids.

Snoring or obstructive sleep apnea may respond to various treatments now offered by many otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons, these include:

If surgery is too risky or unwanted, the patient may sleep every night with a nasal mask that delivers air pressure into the throat; this is called continuous positive airway pressure or "CPAP".

A chronically snoring child should be examined for problems with his or her tonsils and adenoids. A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be required to return the child to full health.

Self-Help for the Light Snorer

Ohio ENT & Allergy recommends that adults who suffer from mild or occasional snoring try the following self-help remedies:

REMEMBER: snoring means obstructed breathing, and obstruction can be serious. Do not hesitate to contact your physician; it is not funny, and not hopeless.

The information provided above is for general use only, and medical decisions should not be made without consulting a physician. The information is provided by The American Academy of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery Foundation.