Loud Snoring

Almost everyone who is in a relationship with someone is familiar with snoring and its effects. The majority of people know at least one person who snores. It might be the person you share your bed with, you parents or your distant family.

Not so Funny

Many people tend to poke fun at the snorer but fail to realise that it might be a symptom of the very serious disorder, known as obstructive sleep apnoea. It is very important that the snorer if his problem is very bad is evaluated by a sleep specialist to determine the severity of their condition and recommend treatments and lifestyle changes.

Snoring is a noise that is produced when a person is breathing during their sleep. It is usually produced when the person breathes in and causes a vibration in the soft palate and uvula, which is the skin that hangs down in the back of the throat. The term ‘Apnea means the absence of breathing and if it continues long enough can result in death.

Airway Obstructions

All those people who snore have an incomplete obstruction in their upper airway. Habitual snorers experience episodes of complete upper airway obstruction where the airway is completely blocked for periods of time, often ten seconds and longer. This usually involves a silence which is followed by snorts and gasps as the snorer is fighting to regain their breath. When a snorer is snoring so loud that the noise is disrupting others, obstructive sleep apnoea is almost certainly present and should be treated.

There are two main types of snoring. The type mentioned above which is an indication of obstructive sleep apnea and another which is known as ‘primary snoring.
Primary snoring is a term to describe simple snoring which does not involve sleep apnoea, noisy breathing during sleep, rhythmical snoring, benign snoring and continuous snoring that often involves loud upper airway breathing.

Primary snoring differs from obstructive sleep apnea type snoring by:

    * No evidence of insomnia or excessive sleepiness due to the snoring
    * Complaints regarding snoring by family members or others.
    * Dryness in the mouth when awakening

It is essential that a doctor or sleep specialist rules out obstructive sleep apnoea and other disorders before attempting to treat primary snoring. Your own behaviour and lifestyle may have to be considered and changes may have to take place. Perhaps you may need to lose some weight or sleep on your side. You may also have to refrain from consuming alcohol and sedatives.

There are oral devices available that can help to keep the airway open. They can reduce snoring by bringing the jaw forwards, elevating the soft palate or stop the tongue from falling back into the airway. All these methods will or should result in decreased snoring.

Surgery is also an option. This is known as Laser assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP), or Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) which involves the removal of excess tissue from the throat area. A new surgery known as somnoplasty is now available and uses radio frequency waves to remove any excess tissue.

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