Snoring might seem like something comical you can laugh about, but it’s actually an indicator that something bigger might be happening. The American Academy of Otoloryngology estimates that nearly 25% of adults snore
on a regular basis. Although certain lifestyle changes can improve snoring, snoring should not be a daily occurrence or it can impact your health. Discover some of the possible causes of snoring and when you should seek medical attention.
You may not have snored in your youth but as you climb in age, maybe you’ve developed a nightly snoring habit. This isn’t unusual. It’s actually common for snoring to worsen with age. This is due to several contributing factors including:
- Loss of Muscle Tone
- Weight Gain
- Hormonal Changes (Menopause)
As you age, your muscles begin to lose their tone. This also includes the muscles in your upper airway. As they lose their tone, the soft palate becomes even more susceptible to vibration that causes snoring. It can also obstruct the airway which can cause sleep apnea. In addition to the loss of muscle tone, certain medications can also cause the muscles to relax which will contribute to snoring. Weight gain and the changes of hormones can also have an impact on the upper airway and contribute to snoring.
What position do you sleep in? Your sleeping position can actually be one of the causes of your nightly snoring. If you sleep on your back and snore, try sleeping on your side. Using a leg pillow or placing a tennis ball in the back of your shirt can help you stay on your side throughout the night.
A number of factors can cause snoring and some of these include nose and throat conditions. These can include a deviated septum, nasal polyps, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and allergies, colds and the flu. Each of these conditions can obstruct the airway enough to cause snoring at night. You may need to see an ENT specialist to address these causes of snoring.
Gaining weight can also cause snoring. This is because when you gain weight, some of the extra fat will accumulate in the neck. As the neck grows in girth, the weight will put pressure on the upper airway and even cause an obstruction. In addition, your throat muscles can decrease muscle tone which can also cause the soft tissues in the neck to collapse into the airway.
Drinking a nightcap used to be recommended for a quality night of sleep but it’s now clear that it does the opposite. Drinking alcohol before bed can interrupt your sleep in several ways. To start, it can impact your sleep cycles and cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep. Alcohol is also a relaxant which means it causes the muscles in your throat to relax. As they relax, it can obstruct your airway and cause you to snore. Medications like muscle relaxers can also have the same effect and result in snoring.
Another common cause of snoring is the mouth anatomy. Some people have tongues that are too large for their mouth, or underdeveloped jaws. Fortunately, these are issues that a dentist can help with.
The last and most common cause of snoring is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs in nearly 22 million Americans and has snoring as one of it’s most common side effects. When someone has obstructive sleep apnea, their airway becomes obstructed while they sleep. The obstruction causes them to stop breathing which alerts the brain to choke or cough to catch their breath. During this time, the person will wake up although they usually have no memory of the event. This process will repeat itself repeatedly throughout the night.
After waking up, people often experience symptoms such as:
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Feeling tired throughout the day
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor memory
- Mood problems
In addition to it’s life-altering symptoms, sleep apnea can also increase health risks for heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and other serious conditions. The only way to reduce your risk is to get sleep apnea treatment.
If you have sleep apnea or you snore on a nightly basis, our dental office in Tulsa, OK can help you find an effective snoring treatment. We first recommend taking a home sleep test to find out if you have a sleep disorder. After the diagnosis, we can provide you with oral appliance therapy which is a CPAP alternative that will help you stop snoring at night and finally get a good night’s rest. Oral appliances rest in the mouth comfortably just like a night guard.
Contact our Tulsa sleep dentist at (918) 528-3330 to book an appointment today.