After my interview with Dr. Sharazi, I had a lot of questions about snoring and the difference between sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing.
So let’s break it down a bit further in this quick overview. We could talk for hours on this subject.
What is Snoring?
Simply put, snoring is noisy breathing while you sleep. The loud snoring sounds occur when there is an obstruction to the flow of air through the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures get close to touching each other and vibrate during breathing.
It’s a common condition that can affect anyone, although it happens more often in men and in people who are overweight.
Snoring and Kids:
Although snoring is found mainly in adults, it is sometimes present in kids. It happens when someone can no longer freely move air in and out of their lungs, which can occur for several reasons. Children born with neuromuscular defects may have trouble breathing while sleeping, issues that can continue into adulthood. A long uvula, the flap of tissue that hangs down from the soft palate, can obstruct the airways and cause snoring. Neuromuscular diseases can also cause respiratory weakness and lessen airflow. Sometimes, increased nasal pressure, surgery, and medication can alleviate these issues.
Is Snoring Serious?
Snoring once in a while isn’t usually a serious problem, and it’s mostly a nuisance for your bed partner. But if you’re a long-term snorer, you not only disrupt the sleep patterns of those close to you, you hurt your sleep quality.
Snoring can itself be a symptom of a health problem like obstructive sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor if you’re overly sleepy when you wake up or during the day, if you often snore or very loudly, or if your partner notices that you sometimes stop breathing altogether. You might need medical help so you (and your loved ones) can get a good night’s sleep.
Kids and adults that snore are prone to sleep apnea which can be potentially dangerous. Snoring for kids can be a warning sign of a potentially dangerous sleep disorder and may need further treatment. Snoring specialists help children overcome snoring. In mild cases, it is pretty straightforward, but complicated cases may require advanced medical procedures such as oral appliances, injections, and surgery. The sooner snoring is addressed, the better.
Sleep apnea treatment with a dental appliance will reduce and often ELIMINATE snoring for the person wearing the appliance.
Snoring happens when the flow of air through your mouth and/or nose is blocked. Several things can interfere with airflow, some of which include:
- Poor muscle tone in your throat and tongue – Throat and Tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse into your airway. Myo functional therapy can help low muscle tone.
- Bulky throat tissue – Being overweight can cause this. Some children have large tonsils and adenoids that make them snore.
- Long soft palate and/or uvula – A long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in the back of your mouth) can narrow the opening from your nose to your throat. When you breathe, this causes them to vibrate and bump against one another, and your airway becomes blocked.
- Alcohol and drug use – Drinking alcohol or taking certain medications can also make your tongue and throat muscles relax too much.
- Sleep position – Sleeping on your back is the most common position that can make you snore. So can using a pillow that’s too soft or too large.
- Nasal congestion – can be caused by illnesses such as a cold or allergy that can also cause the throat to swell, further constricting airways. Medication can help lessen these symptoms, and diffusers and humidifiers can also improve breathing.
You can do a simple test to see if you can unblock your nose. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Pinch your nose between your thumb and index finger. Move your head to the left, then to the right forward and back, until you feel the hunger of air, let go of your nose, keep your lips closed and take a breath through your nose. If you take a big breath through your mouth, repeat until you breathe with your nose. If you can not breathe through your nose, you may need more help; contact your Dr., dentist, or a myofunctional therapist to learn exercises that can help. They can also help locate the right Dr. for you to help you breathe better.
- Blocked nasal airways – Some people snore only during allergy season or when they have a sinus infection. Problems in your nose such as a deviated septum (when the wall that separates one nostril from the other is off-center) or nasal polyps can also block your airways. Sleep deprivation. Your throat muscles might relax too much if you’re not getting enough sleep.
- Underactive Thyroid Gland-Hypothyroidism – is an unexpected contributor to snoring, but studies show a definite correlation between the two. An underactive thyroid produces fewer hormones than it should, and an increase in these hormones can decrease the severity of snoring, which requires medical treatment, to prevent a variety of potentially dangerous symptoms.
- Asthma and a small pharynx – can cause negative esophageal pressure and increase snoring. Nasal CPAP machines for sleep apnea patients have a positive effect on people with these conditions.
Snoring Diagnosis and Treatment:
Your partner might be the person who tells you that you snore. Your doctor will ask both of you about your symptoms.
Your doctor will also ask about your medical history and do a physical exam to look for things that could block your airways, like chronic nasal congestion due to rhinitis or sinusitis, a deviated septum, or swollen tonsils. They might also give you some tests:
- Imaging tests – An X-ray, MRI scan, or CT scan can look for problems in your airways.
- Sleep Study – You might need to have a machine to monitor your sleep while you’re at home or spend the night in a lab for a test called polysomnography. It will measure things like your heart rate, breathing, apnea, and brain activity while you sleep.
Home Remedies to Stop Snoring:
These are suggestions to help get a good night’s sleep:
- Sleep on your side, not your back.
- Raise the head of your bed a few inches.
- Use nasal strips that stick to the bridge of your nose to widen your nostrils.
- Use Decongestants to open your airways. Please don’t use them for more than three days without talking to your doctor.
- Stick to a sleep schedule.
- Mout taping as long as you can breathe through your nose for at least 1-3 minutes
Treatments for snoring include:
- Lifestyle changes – losing weight, quitting smoking, or drinking alcohol before bed.
- Oral appliances -You wear a small plastic device in your mouth while you sleep. It keeps your airways open by moving your jaw or tongue.
- Mouth taping – to help keep your mouth shut and breathe through your nose.
- Surgery – There are several types of procedures that can help stop snoring. Your doctor might remove or shrink tissues in your throat, make your hard palate wider or soft palate stiffer.
- C-PAP – A continuous positive airway pressure machine treats sleep apnea and might reduce snoring by blowing air into your airways while you sleep.
Snoring doesn’t seem to have complications. But sleep apnea can cause problems that may include:
- Frequent sleep-waking, even though you may not realize it
- Light sleeping. Waking up so many times a night interferes with your normal pattern of sleep, causing you to get up and pee often and spend more time in light sleep than in a more restorative, deeper sleep.
- The strain on your heart- Long-term obstructive sleep apnea often raises Blood pressure and may make your heart larger, increasing risks of heart attack and stroke.
- Poor night’s sleep- may make you sleepy during the day, can interfere with your concentration and quality of life.
You may need a snoring specialist
What Does a Snoring Specialist Do?
- A snoring specialist may ask you some basic questions for initial evaluation and typically recommend an at-home sleep study. After determining the severity of your condition, the specialist will give you some treatment options. These include more extreme options such as Somnoplasty, Tonsillectomy, Adenoidectomy, and other, less invasive options that can be extremely effective and gentle on the body. Seeing a specialist may help you decide on the best treatment option for your specific issues and needs.
- I recommend one that knows works with a myofuntional therapist, knows about appliances, orthodontic treatments, sleep studies, and breathing. The breath institute is a great resource.
Most people don’t get enough sleep!
A lack of adequate sleep can affect mood, judgment, energy levels, ability to retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Poor Concentration
- Loss of Libido
- Tiredness of waking
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Poor performance in school, on the job, or in sports
- Increased clumsiness
- Falling asleep during work or class
Untreated sleep apnea affects your well-being. Sleep apnea may contribute to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction, as well as to memory and concentration impairment. Since sleep apnea reduces the quality of your sleep and contributes to daytime sleepiness, driving becomes more dangerous. In fact, sleep apnea is a leading cause of car accidents.
What Does Apnea Mean?
Sleep apnea, the cessation of breathing during sleep, is a common problem that affects both adults and children. The National Institutes of Health estimate that more than 12 million Americans have sleep apnea, most often undetected or misdiagnosed. In fact, conservative estimates suggest that only 16 percent of sleep apnea sufferers receive treatment.
Getting proper treatment for Sleep Apnea, will increase the quality of your life dramatically!
There are a lot of factors that contribute to a good night’s sleep, and the way we breathe is definitely one of them. Sleep apnea is one of the sleeping disorders that affect our ability to breathe during the night, and it’s a lot more serious than most believe.
A person with sleep apnea stops breathing during sleep. There are three forms of sleep apnea: central, obstructive, and complex. The most common of the three is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This condition is different from obstructive sleep apnea, in which you can’t breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.
Does sleep apnea occur every night?
If you have sleep apnea, your breathing can be affected for 10 to 30 seconds during each apnea. This can happen up to 400 times in one night.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Restlessness during sleep, frequent nighttime awakenings
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Sudden awakenings with a sensation of gasping or choking
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening
- Cognitive impairment, such as trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, or irritability
Obstructive Sleep Apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is a primary cause of snoring. In most people, sleeping restricts airflow to specific areas in the upper respiratory tract due to a combination of normal muscle relaxation and gravity. People with sleep apnea have even less airflow, and the airways collapse for seconds at a time before reopening, causing snoring. This is a potentially dangerous illness, but sleep masks and other treatments can correct it. Weight loss can also help, as Sleep issues are more common in people with obesity due to the tongue blocking the airway and having to cock the head back to get the proper airflow.
The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
- Loud Snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which a loved one would notice
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
The most common cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In adults, the most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity, which is associated with the soft tissue of the mouth and throat. When throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed during sleep, the tongue and soft tissue can cause the airway to become blocked.
Can Obstructive Sleep Apnea go away by itself?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic condition that does not go away on its own, and this is especially true if you are an adult because your anatomy tends to be done growing. Several factors can cause obstructive sleep apnea, many of which relate to a person’s anatomy.
If you have problems sleeping, experiencing chronic daytime fatigue, have anxiety, snore or have chronic sinus congestion and mouth breathing, please, know there is help!
Each person is different with their own unique set of circumstances, so reach out to me for more information.
Dr. Soroush Zaghi and The Breathe Institute are saving lives. Dr. Zaghi is training doctors and dentists worldwide in this customized and holistic model of care. They are also a great source of information.
Please reach out. Dr. Zaghi and his team of caring and compassionate experts are here to help get you on track and living your life to the fullest! I can personally attest to that!
A Healthy Mouth is a Healthy Body and a Healthy Happier Life!