Let's sleep properly! - stop snoring
Why do we snore?
Not on purpose, that's for sure. During sleep, the air encounters obstacles in partially or completely blocked airways. The vibrations that develop in this case - which mostly come from around the soft palate and tongue - are called snoring. It can also occur in children, in which case it can be caused by the enlargement of the nasopharyngeal tonsils or pharyngeal tonsils, these two usually go together, but developmental disorders causing pharynx or larynx narrowing can also be the cause. In adulthood, in addition to diseases of the nose and pharynx, for example, reflux can also be the cause of snoring. An increase in the number of extra kilos proportionally increases the severity of snoring. As we age, snoring becomes more frequent, as the elasticity of the tissue of the soft palate decreases.
How do we snore?
The mild version, when snoring occurs rarely and only temporarily. It is less dangerous, rather it disturbs the sleeping partner and usually does not involve organ changes. If we snore at least three times a week, we are already talking about a moderate condition, which is important to investigate, as it can not only cause sleepiness the next day, but can also be an underlying disease. Regular, loud choking snoring, on the other hand, is a very serious matter. The disorder, also known as sleep apnea, is associated with a pause in breathing for at least 10 seconds and can occur up to 100 times during the night. When the brain detects a lack of oxygen, it wakes up the sleeper to the point of taking a breath, who does not remember it the next day. All this up to 100 times.
Why is snoring harmful?
Snoring with sleep apnea can cause temporary or permanent health damage. Due to more restless sleep, insomnia, headaches, reduced concentration and sleepiness may occur the next day, which is very dangerous for work and transport, especially while driving. It has been proven that people suffering from sleep apnea have reduced performance, short-term memory, libido, increased irritability, headaches, metabolic disorders and obesity. Sleep apnea accompanied by loud snoring has been shown to increase the risk of nocturnal heart attacks, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Heart attacks and brain disasters can occur with a tenfold risk.
What can we do?
In the event that a child's parent, or an adult's co-sleeper, notices loud suffocating snoring following repeated breathlessness lasting more than ten seconds during the night, or in the case of a lone sleeper - who does not necessarily notice his own snoring - morning sweats, headache, daytime sleepiness, loss of concentration, malaise, memory impairment, morning high blood pressure, rhythm disorder occur, a general medical examination is required. During this, co-morbidities and risk factors are assessed, and then a thorough otolaryngological condition assessment can follow. In case of uncertainty, a home sleep test can be recommended, during which it will be revealed whether a more serious so-called polysomnography test is needed, which enables the most complete diagnosis.
What we can do ourselves is, for example, to quit smoking, as inflamed airways and shortness of breath can also contribute to snoring. Alcohol consumption also increases the chance of snoring, as a side effect of drinking in the evening and at night, the muscles of the upper respiratory tract relax, so the sound effect produced as a vibration of the soft tissues increases. For people with sleep apnea, the lack of oxygen can worsen at this time. It is interesting that some people experience nasal congestion after consuming dairy products, and snoring is also more common in this case. Fatty, spicy, and heavy foods can compress the mouth of the stomach and the diaphragm, causing the airway to narrow. Lying on your side also helps, there are some home practices, but there are no miracle cures that can eliminate snoring, so it's worth investigating what's behind it. In children, for example, the removal of the nasopharyngeal tonsils and, if necessary, the pharyngeal tonsils can help, or the plastic solution of other developmental disorders can even eliminate snoring completely. There are many interventions that improve nasal breathing for adults as well, which help them sleep peacefully.
Pharyngoplasty surgeries performed with various radiofrequency devices or lasers also have promising results, which can also eliminate sleep apnea that occurs during snoring. It is important, however, that polysomnography and endoscopy during sleep are required before any surgical intervention to prevent snoring.
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Get to know our otolaryngologists:
Dr. Magdolna Bánki
Dr. Miklós Tóth