Friday, October 21, 2011

Health Care and Snoring

Millions of Americans suffer from lack of sleep due to a spouse or partner who snores while sleeping. Snoring is a problem that is the cause of many couples having relationship issues especially if the guilty party does nothing to correct it. Snoring leads to other health care issues as well and can be a medical problem in extreme cases.

According to the Mayo Clinic, snoring is the hoarse or harsh sound that occurs when your breathing is obstructed in some way while you're sleeping. Sometimes snoring may indicate a serious health condition. As many as half of adults snore at least occasionally. Snoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe, which creates those irritating sounds. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol close to bedtime or sleeping on your side, can help stop snoring. In addition, medical devices and surgery are available that may reduce disruptive snoring. However, these aren't suitable or necessary for everyone who snores. 

If snoring happens frequently it can affect the quantity and quality of your sleep and that of other family members, according to HelpGuide.org. Poor sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. If your snoring keeps your partner awake, it can also create major relationship problems; but thankfully, sleeping in separate bedrooms doesn’t have to be the remedy for your snoring. In fact, there are many effective solutions available. Once you find cure that works best to stop your snoring, you’ll vastly improve your health, your relationships, and, of course, your sleep.

According to Help Guide, not all snoring is the same. Everyone snores for different reasons. When you get to the bottom of why you snore, then you can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue, or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of your 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. The good news is that no matter how and when you snore, there are solutions to making your snoring better. Snoring happens when you can't move air freely through your nose and mouth during sleep. It’s 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.

According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors that may contribute to snoring include:

--Being a man. Men are more likely to snore or have sleep apnea than are women.
--Being overweight. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to snore or have obstructive sleep apnea.
--Having a narrow airway. Some people have large tonsils or adenoids, while others may have a long soft palate, which can narrow the airway and cause snoring.
--Drinking alcohol. Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, increasing the risk of snoring.
--Having nasal problems. If you have a structural defect in your airway, such as a deviated septum, or your nose is chronically stuffed, your risk of snoring is greater.

According to Help Guide, snoring also could indicate sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires medical attention. Sleep apnea is a breathing obstruction, causing the sleeper to keep waking up to begin breathing again. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea, so if you’re suffering from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day, your problem may be more than just snoring. Significant detailed information about snoring can be found at this site: http://www.helpguide.org/life/snoring.htm.

According to WebMD, snoring has a tendency to worsen with age. Forty-five percent of adults snore occasionally, while 25% are considered habitual snorers. Occasional snoring is usually not very serious and is mostly a nuisance for the bed partner of the person who snores. However, the habitual snorer not only disrupts the sleep patterns of those close to him, he also disturbs his own. Habitual snorers snore whenever they sleep and are often tired after a night of what seems like quality rest. Medical assistance is usually needed for habitual snorers to get a good night's sleep.

What Are the Health Risks of Snoring?

According to WebMD, habitual snorers can be at risk for serious health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea is an illness that is often associated with chronic snoring. This condition creates several problems, including:

1.) Long interruptions of breathing (more than 10 seconds) during sleep caused by partial or total obstruction or blockage of the airway. Serious cases can have total blockage episodes hundreds of times per night.

2.) Frequent waking from sleep, even though he or she may not realize it.

3.) Snorers with obstructive sleep apnea sleep lightly to try to keep their throat muscles tense enough to maintain airflow.

4.) Blood oxygen levels are often lowered, which causes the heart to pump harder and blood pressure to rise. The result is a poor night's sleep, which leads to drowsiness during the day and can interfere with the persons quality of life. Prolonged suffering from obstructed sleep apnea will result in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart, with higher risks of heart attack and stroke.

5.) The stress of not getting enough oxygen causes the body to produce adrenalin, a chemical that helps our bodies fight and cope with stressful situations. Adrenalin also causes blood sugar to rise, which may eventually lead to diabetes.

According to WebMD, if you occasionally snore, you can try the following behavior changes to help treat the problem:

--Lose weight and improve your eating habits.
--Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before you go to bed.
--Avoid alcohol, heavy meals, or snacks at least four hours before you sleep.
--Establish regular sleeping patterns. For example, try to go to bed at the same time every night.
--Sleep on your side rather than on your back.
--Prop the head of your bed -- not just your pillows -- up four inches.

If none of the above mentioned behavioral changes help snoring, talk to your doctor. Otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors) offer a variety of treatment options that may reduce or eliminate snoring or sleep apnea. There are more than 300 devices on the market to help prevent snoring; however, none of these devices address all of the underlying anatomical problems that cause snoring (such as nasal obstruction and being overweight). Surgery may be needed to correct physical problems.

If you or your spouse are dealing with a serious snoring problem, visit your primary care physician or a specialist who can provide professional medical advice about this health care issue. Prolonging lack of treatment may result in more serious health problems, especially when you get older. Plus, getting a great night of uninterrupted sleep is worth the money. Your partner will love you more for it.
 
Until next time.

1 comment:

Delfina said...

That's why people who snore while asleep must have their condition checked out. My husband is undergoing a treatment that will help him get rid of his sleeping apnea. It helps a lot because he rarely snores now. We've observed that he usually snores because of his sleeping position. :)

Delfina Schrecongost