Lifestyle tweaks which can help you stop snoring

Do you want your partner to stop snoring? An ENT expert tells you why it happens and how it can be managed.
blocked nose and snoring
Snoring can be annoying! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published: 24 Jul 2022, 10:30 am IST
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“Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore and you sleep alone.” This quote Anthony Burgess reflects the agony it is to have a partner who snores while sleeping! So, if you’re interested to know how to stop snoring, read on.

What is snoring?

Snoring is basically noisy breathing when you sleep, varying from a soft whitling sound to a very loud and heavy rattling sound.

“It is a hoarse and harsh sound that occurs when the relaxed tissues of the throat vibrate in response to air flowing through them with every breath, in your sleep.
Snoring does not always signify an underlying medical condition,” according to Dr Shruti Manjunath (MBBS, MS ENT), Consultant ENT specialist and Allergist, Apollo Clinic, Indiranagar, Bengaluru.

Men tend to snore more than women and this can affect all age groups. Snoring can also occur, once in a while, after an exhausting day, with allergies, the common cold or the occasional alcohol consumption.

However, snoring every day is not good and can be a sign of a much bigger problem that needs to be addressed. The expert says it is especially problematic when it occurs along the lines of obstructive sleep apnea.

Health risks of snoring
Try to find out why you snore. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Reasons why snoring happens

Narrowing of the airways at different levels (nose to throat) is one of the main underlying defects in someone who snores chronically. This can happen due to several reasons such as

* Nasal turbinate hypertrophy
* Deviated nasal septum
* Elongated uvula
* Low lying and thick soft palate
* Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
* Improperly positioned jaw bone
* Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue
* Large tongue
* Increased fat deposit in the tissues of the neck in an
overweight/obese individuals.

In addition, chronic alcohol consumption, drug abuse and sleep deprivation may cause the muscles of the throat to relax excessively and collapse during sleep resulting in snoring.

You should visit the doctor if your snoring is affecting you or your partner’s sleep, there is excessive day time sleepiness, heaviness in the head or headaches, difficulty in concentrating especially in children, or disturbed sleep.

“If your loved ones feel that you tend to have pauses during snoring while sleeping, or a choking sensation or gasping sometimes, a doctor’s visit should not be delayed,” adds Dr Manjunath.

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Snoring and sleep apnea
Sleep apnea awareness should not be ignored. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to stop snoring

A detailed history and clinical examination of the airways, which may include an endoscopic assessment of the nose and throat, imaging tests like a CT scan (for nasal issues), along with a Sleep Study and other investigations as the doctor may seem fit are the steps taken to evaluate the cause of snoring and to rule out obstructive sleep apnea.

A sleep study (done at the home/lab/hospital), also called polysomnography, is where a machine monitors your sleep and measures parameters like the heart rate, number of apneic episodes, breathing etc.

The treatment usually revolves around the underlying cause. Ensure lifestyle modifications such as;

* Weight loss
* Regular exercise
* Avoiding alcohol before bed time
* Sleeping on your side
* Raising the head end of your bed

These measures may usually be sufficient once all the other risky causes have been ruled out.

Surgical correction of the narrowed airways, using oral and nasal (like nasal strips) appliances that keep your airways open and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure machine) are some of the other options available.

What are the complications of snoring?

Chronic snoring can further lead to other problems like sleep apnea, day time sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, heart conditions, stroke, behavior problems in children and even road traffic accidents due to the lack of sound sleep.

In short, snoring may not just be a nuisance to deal with but can be a sign of something bigger underneath and adequate measures must be taken to evaluate and resolve it.

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