I remember watching a “Three Stooges” episode when I was young and laughing at the different sounds that Moe, Larry and Curly Joe made while sleeping. Their snoring was comedic, but I know, as an adult, that snoring can be more than a nuisance, it can be a health risk.
For those who sleep with heavy snorers, they know that sleep quality can be greatly compromised. Some mates end up sleeping in separate rooms so at least one escapes the disruptions caused by the noise. Some snorers can be coaxed to “turn over,” which can put a halt to snoring. However, some snoring is so intense Many factors, such as the anatomy of your mouth and sinuses, alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, and your weight, can lead to snoring.
When you doze off and progress from a light sleep to a deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate.
Snoring effects up to 25 percent of women and 45 percent who are categorized as habitual snorers. Snoring is also the most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), effecting up to 95 percent of patients. However, snoring is a poor predictor of OSA because of the high prevalence of snoring in the general population. In addition to snoring, OSA is associated with a number of serious illnesses, including arterial hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952752/
What causes snoring?
The following can affect the airway and cause snoring:
Anatomy – Due to individual anatomy, one may be more prone to snoring. For example, a low, thick soft palate creates a more narrow airway. The more narrowed your airway, the more forceful airflow becomes. This causes tissue vibration to increase, which causes your snoring to grow louder.
Sleep Position – Sleeping on the back narrows the airway passages from gravity’s effect on the throat.
Weight – Being overweight means extra tissues in the back of the throat, which can narrow the airway.
Nasal Problems – For people who have chronic nasal congestion or a deviated septum (crooked divider between the nostrils), the uneven path of airflow can lead to snoring.
Elongated Uvula – When the piece of tissue than hangs down from the soft palate is longer than normal, it can obstruct airflow, which increases vibration sounds.
Drinking Alcohol – Drinking too much alcohol before bedtime can cause the throat muscles to over-relax.
Yet, the most intense snoring is associated with obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the throat tissues partially or completely block the airway, which halts the breathing process during sleep. Eventually, the pause in breathing (which can last for up to a minute each time) causes the person to wake up, which often begins with a loud snort or gasping sound.
Louder snoring associated with more severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was actually evaluated through one study of over 1640 habitual snorers who were referred for evaluation of sleep apnea. In the study (published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine), the average age was 48 with the average BMI of 31 with 65 percent of study participants being male.
With the intensity of snoring, also assessed were body mass index (BMI), neck size, sleep stage, and body position. It should also be noted that the male participants were older, heavier, and had larger neck circumferences than the females.
Using AHI grading (apnea-hypopnea index), the severity of OSA was measured as none for less than 5, 5 to 15 for mild, 15 to 30 for moderate, and severe being 30 to 50 with very severe registering over 50. The results showed that snoring intensity increases progressively across all categories of AHI frequency with the intensity of snoring increasing as OSA becomes more severe. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/basics/complications/con-20020286)
While snoring is no laughing matter, sleep apnea can be deadly. Sleep apnea has been associated with heart attacks, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, liver problems and complications following surgery.
For people who are heavy snorers or suffer with mild to moderate sleep apnea, there may be a simple, effective solution.
We are certified to create custom-fitted oral appliances that open up air flow by moving the lower jaw slightly forward. These appliances are FDA approved, small and do not interfere with sleep.
These are ideal for people who have tried CPAP devices and find them too cumbersome, noisy or confining. We use the Oravan system, which has an ideal track record for comfort and ease of use. For those who have tried our Oravan system, many agree with this user:
“I am sleeping soundly and have no problems using the mouth piece. This has helped me get rid of that bulky CPAP and my wife is thrilled!”
If you’d like to discuss the Oravan system for yourself or someone you know, call 843-871-6351. Consider beginning with a no-cost consultation. I will be happy to answer your questions and discuss costs. We can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy payment options, if desired.