Snoring can be cured , hear my story!
By Dr Brighton Chireka
I never thought it would happen to me but was surprised when my daughter recorded a video of me taking a nap during the day. I was surprised to notice that I was making this interesting noise during breathing in my sleep. I wanted answers as to how I had developed this problem. My short research led me to write this article which I think will help a lot of people as I now realise that this problem of snoring is very common. Here in England as many as one in four people snore regularly. Snoring can affect people of all ages , including children , although it’s more common in adults aged 40-60. Sadly twice as many men than women snore. Men we need to do something about our snoring !
What is snoring?
Snoring is where a person makes a snorting or rattling noise when they breathe during sleep.The noise comes from the soft palate and tissue in the mouth, nose or throat vibrating. Some people snore infrequently and the sound they make isn’t particularly loud, while others may snore every night, loud enough to be heard in the next room. This can disturb others sleeping in the same room or house with person who is snoring.
We have a grading systems to assess a person’s snoring. The higher the grade, the more severe the snoring is.
Grade one snoring
Grade one snoring, also known as simple snoring, is where a person snores infrequently and the sound they make isn’t particularly loud. People with grade one snoring do not have breathing problems but their snoring can irritate or annoy their partners so they need to see a doctor for further help.
Grade two snoring
Grade two snoring is where you snore on a regular basis (more than three days a week). These people may experience some mild to moderate breathing problems which need to be sorted out by their doctor.
Grade three snoring
Grade three snoring is where you snore every night, so loudly it can be heard outside your room. Many people with grade three snoring have a related condition called obstructive sleep apnoea. This sometimes occurs most commonly in obese people. This is where the airways become partially or totally blocked for about 10 seconds. The lack of oxygen triggers your brain to take you out of deep sleep into a lighter state of sleep, or to wake you up for a short period to restore normal breathing. Repeated episodes of snoring and waking can occur throughout the night, causing you to feel very sleepy the next day. This may have an adverse impact on your day-to-day activities.
You should see your doctor immediately if your snoring is affecting aspects of your life, such as causing excessive tiredness and poor concentration, or relationship problems with your partner.
Excessive daytime sleepiness should be taken seriously, because it increases the risk of a road traffic accident. The Department of Transport in the UK estimates that one in five road traffic accidents are caused by excessive sleepiness. It can also cause accidents with the use of machinery and vehicles, such as cranes and forklift trucks.
What causes snoring ?
I wanted to find out what had gone wrong to suddenly develop this problem of snoring. I realised that snoring is caused by the vibration of soft tissue in our head and neck as we breathe in and out during sleep. This includes the nasal passages, the soft palate in the roof of our mouth, and our tonsils.
While we sleep, our airways relax and narrow. This affects air pressure within your airways and causes the tissue to vibrate. This can also occur if our airways are partially blocked – for example, if we have a cold or suffer from hay fever. Another thing is if one sleeps in an awkward position ( sleeping on a chair or sofa) they can snore. This is nothing to worry about as long as it stops when one sleeps in normal position.
Our chances of snoring can also be increased by factors such as being overweight , drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and smoking.
My problem was that I had put on lots of weight and addressing the issue of my weight helped me to say good bye to this problem of snoring but I know it can come back if I do not maintain my new weight.
In children snoring can be due to large tonsils so my advice is that you should see your doctor to address the problem.
It is sometimes possible to treat snoring by lifestyle changes. In my case losing weight solved my problem and I recommend it to everyone who has the snoring problem to try it first. Stopping alcohol especially a few hours before going to bed will help to stop snoring that is caused by alcohol intake. Stopping smoking is recommended as as well regular exercise as it will strengthen the neck muscles thus preventing them from easily narrowing when one sleeps.
When lifestyle changes have failed one can try anti-snoring devices, such as mouth guards or nasal strips, which may help prevent snoring.
Surgery may be an option if anti-snoring devices don’t help. This often involves removing the soft tissue that causes snoring, or preventing the tissue from vibrating by causing it to tighten. Surgery for snoring is usually regarded as a treatment of last resort.
If everything fails and one continues to snore and it’s affecting family members then asking other family members to wear ear plugs when sleeping may help to solve this issue which at times can lead to couples divorcing.
This article was compiled by Dr. Brighton Chireka who is a GP and a Patient Engagement Advocate (PEA) in Folkestone Kent, UK. You can contact him on: DR CHIREKA’S BLOG
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Dr. Chireka has used all reasonable care in compiling the information, but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professionals for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.