People who snore are often made fun of and jokingly talked about. However, snoring is not a trivial issue. While many people just consider snoring to be disrupting and loud, it could be a signal of a serious condition known as sleep apnea, though apnea patients may not necessarily be habitual snorers. In the United States alone independent studies have shown that between 30 and 50 percent of the entire population have snoring episodes at least at some point in their lives. The main complaints about this condition are mainly social, with many relationships being strained as a result of it.
Once a person is informed that they are a recurrent snorer it is important to get a diagnosis from a professional medical physician to establish whether it is a symptom of sleep apnea– a breathing irregularity during sleep. In Greek the word ‘apnea’ literally means ‘without breath’ and true to this description, sufferers of this condition often skip several breaths when sleeping. Out of all the known sleep disorders, this is one of the most undiagnosed and untreated. Due to the commonness of snoring, people may not consider it a potentially serious condition.
The main characteristic of this condition is the compression of the air passage ways which stops the constant passage of air. This is normally the cause of snoring because the air has a less space to proceed through; hence the production of the grunting like sound as the air struggles to pass through the respiratory system. The reason that snoring occurs during sleep is because as one is lying down there is a tendency of the airways collapsing due to relaxation causing temporary blockage. As a result of this, the lungs do not get adequate supply of air thus there is a shortfall of oxygen in addition to the buildup of carbon dioxide within the body. The breathing lapses could happen between 5 and 50 times in one hour.
Snoring could be caused by other factors that include a mispositioned jaw, reclining of the tongue into the throat and accumulation of fat within the throat. The use of alcohol and other relaxants have also been known to cause the relaxation of throat muscles leading to snoring. This condition has a great impact on sufferer as well as those close to them. Cases of sleep deprivation, drowsiness during the day, irritability and lack of concentration have been attributed to this disorder. Latest studies have further attributed snoring and sleep apnea to potentially life threatening conditions such as heart disease and strokes.
The first step for the diagnosis of snoring is usually done by a partner or friend of the sufferer. Visiting a medical doctor is the next necessary step towards getting a more professional diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Sleep clinics are becoming more popular as the best referral point for sleep disorders and they are normally equipped with the personnel and equipment necessary to effectively deal with conditions such as snoring and sleep apnea. Treatment procedures normally revolve around the clearing of breathing passages and keeping them open for easier breathing. This can be done by first dealing with lifestyle situations that could exacerbate the situation. Eating a balanced diet will ensure the reduction any fat that may accumulate around the throat area. Avoiding smoking also helps improve the situation because smoking can clog the throat.
There are also various devices that can be worn orally to help ease breathing while sleeping. This is the preferred method for those who do not wish to undergo surgery on their airway passages. Sometimes pharmacological treatments are prescribed individually or to supplement other forms of treatment. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment on time could help snoring and sleep apnea sufferers to avoid further complications that could potentially arise from this treatable condition.