If you snore, or have a partner who has snoring issues, then you are aware of the sleepless nights that can occur as a result. Snoring isn’t much of a problem if it only happens on occasion, but it can be a warning sign of a more serious condition, so if it happens on a frequent basis, it’s probably a good idea to get to the root of the problem.
What Causes Snoring in the First Place?
Basically, snoring occurs when there is a blockage of air through the mouth and nose. While it can occur in any age and gender, it tends to occur more in men and people who are overweight. There are many different underlying causes of snoring, some that also affect one’s ability to breathe properly during sleep. When this occurs, snoring can go from a mild annoyance to a serious issue than can be quite debilitating. Below are a few of the underlying reasons that snoring issues might occur.
- Sleeping position: The position in which one sleeps can also contribute to snoring. For instance, sleeping on the back is commonly associated with snoring.
- Alcohol or drugs: Using alcohol or drugs, such as muscle relaxers, can also cause snoring, by making the muscles in the throat and tongue relax too much.
- Blocked nasal airway: There are several reasons that nasal airways might be blocked. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a cold or allergy. Other times, it could be something like a deviated septum or nasal polyps.
- Long uvula or soft palate: The dangling tissue in the back of the mouth, called the uvula, or a long soft palate can narrow the passageway from the nose to the throat. When this happens, breathing can cause them to vibrate against each other and the airway can become blocked.
- Obstructive sleep apnea: This can be caused by several different things, but often occurs when soft muscle tissues relax during sleep. Frequently, this is associated with being overweight, but is not always the case.
What Can I Do About My Snoring Issues?
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the snoring issues. For instance, sometimes lifestyle changes can help. Doctors may suggest that patients try sleeping in a different position or reduce the amount of alcohol consumed, especially at night. If a cold or allergy is the culprit, medication might be prescribed. Sometimes, even surgery might be an option, especially if an elongated uvula or soft palate is the culprit. Of course, if the cause is sleep apnea, many other options might be considered, from a CPAP machine to an oral appliance that might be prescribed and fitted by your dentist.
Is Snoring Really That Serious?
The short answer is yes! Snoring may seem like a minor nuisance, but it can be quite serious indeed. A minor cold or allergy will pass, but if the snorer has something like sleep apnea as the underlying cause of their snoring issues, it can present many debilitating health concerns that must be addressed.
In severe cases, obstructive sleep apnea can cause a person to stop breathing up to hundreds of times per night. Episodes can last from a few seconds to a minute or longer, usually accompanied by choking, gasping, and, of course, snoring. As mentioned previously, this can contribute to many serious health concerns, including decreased cardiovascular health, increased stress hormones, and hypertension. It can also contribute to weight gain, poor concentration, and diabetes. A good night’s sleep is fundamental to good health!
What About Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Devices?
CPAP devices are one of the more common treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. It works by blowing pressurized air through a tube that connects at one end to a machine. The other end of the tube is connected to a mask worn by the patient. The pressurized air keeps the airway open during sleep. While this is generally an effective option, not everyone can tolerate CPAP or afford it, especially if insurance doesn’t cover it.
Is Oral Appliance Therapy an Option?
Another option to treat snoring issues is oral appliance therapy. This is especially useful for those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The user wears the oral appliance during sleep. It’s somewhat similar to a sports mouth guard used. They work by supporting the jaw in a forward position and keeping the airway open during sleep. More and more people are giving oral appliance therapy a try. More insurance companies are covering the treatment option and it is less costly then CPAP. It is also less risky than surgery and requires no recovery time.
How Do I Know if Oral Appliance Therapy is Right for Me?
To determine if oral appliance therapy is the right treatment option for your snoring issues, the first step is to consult with a dentist specializing in the treatment of sleep apnea. You can ask your family dentist or even your physician for a referral if you don’t already know of a specialist in your area. You might also want to check with your insurance company to see if this visit will be covered and if you need a referral from your physician first.
When you see the specialist, they will complete a full evaluation to determine if an oral appliance will work for your needs. If they believe this type of treatment is appropriate, they will make sure your mouth and joints are healthy enough to support an oral appliance and will determine which type of appliance will best solve your snoring issues.
Seek Help for Your Snoring Issues
Good sleep is one of the fundamental components of good health. If you are experiencing snoring issues, consider investigating treatment options right away. If you’d like to learn more about using an oral appliance to treat your snoring issues, please contact Sleep Better Columbus at (614) 362-7292 today. Our experienced staff can provide a full evaluation as well as all the information you will need to make the best decision for your treatment needs.