Snoring: Causes and Treatments

Okay, we all know it when we hear it, but what causes it? I’m talking about snoring. The loud, often obnoxious noise pollution that causes millions of sleepless nights every night, but not for the person making all the noise. What is it and is there any way to make it go away or at least control it?

Snoring is a simple physical reaction. That sound you dread is an example of what sound is all about; it is a result of the vibration of tissue in the air passages. When you sleep and become more relaxed, those muscles located in your throat and on the roof of your mouth begin sagging, resulting in a narrowing of the airway. As air struggles to move through those passages vibration occurs and snoring begins. The more constricted the airway, the louder the snore. The overwhelming number of cases of snoring is related to the snorer’s weight. Often people who never snored before start after gaining weight. The reason for weight gain’s effect on snoring is that as one becomes heavier, the tissues in the neck lose their firmness and begin to droop. This weight puts new pressure on the airways and results in the constriction necessary for snoring.

Besides weight, another common cause of snoring is aging. It still goes back to the muscles losing tone, however. With age may come wisdom, but it also brings a weakening of muscle strength. The weakened muscle tissues sag and, well, vibration happens. Of course, if you happen to be young and overweight, this is good news. You can always lose the weight to stop your snoring. You cannot get younger, however. Seriously, though, the easiest way to stop snoring for many people is simply to lose some of the excess weight. In many cases it doesn’t require a whole lot of weight to be dropped. Often as little as ten to fifteen pounds will be enough to do the trick. In addition, most people can be made to stop snoring simply by rolling them over onto their side. When one sleeps on one’s back, it causes the tongue to slide slightly down into the throat, further narrowing the airway. By tipping them over onto their side, you get the tongue to slide forward and often that’s enough to stop the slumber symphony.

If weight isn’t the culprit, you might consider allergies. Allergies result in the nasal passages getting blocked up and the reduction of air being able to flow easily. The treatment for this type of snoring requires a bit more effort, however. The first thing you have to do is figure out what the allergy is to. If it’s a pet in the house, it’s time to invest in a dog house or a fence. If the allergy is to something in the plant world, try to stay away from it as best you can. Keeping the sheets and blankets washed and switching them out on a regular basis can also help. And always change the filter on your air conditioner system at least once a month. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to wipe the vent grilles clean.

Since snoring is often the result of dry nasal passages, another method of battling snoring lies in keeping those airways nice and dry. To do this you might consider buying a humidifier to keep the air in your house a little wetter and facilitate the flow of air. In addition, keeping away from alcohol can help with this. Alcohol, as well as many medications that contain alcohol, contribute to drying up the tissues in those airways. If possible, avoid all alcohol, but especially do so as it gets close to bedtime.

If the snoring that is keeping you up is particularly loud and punctuated by what sounds like a person literally gasping for breath, that could be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea isn’t the same thing as snoring. It is, in fact, a potentially life-threatening condition and you seek medical treatment if you suspect you or your bed partner is suffering from it.

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