Snoring, from social problem to pathological disease

Snoring has become a very common night noise, especially among adults. According to the data of the Sleep Research Institute, approximately 45 % of the world population snores occasionally, while 25 % do so regularly.

Snoring at night does not necessarily mean there is a health problem. However, it is undeniable that this rumbling and noisy sound is annoying and has its consequences. That is why the simple snoring is considered an important social problem.

Although the simple snoring is usually reduced to an intermittent noise, many people find it so disturbing that it influences also their daily life. Snoring also affects the roommates and even the neighbors of the snorer. A study of the British Association of Snoring and Sleep Apnea revealed that “people who snore deprive their partner the equivalent of 2 years of sleep in 24 years of living together”. This lack of sleep in the relationships of couples leads to conflicts. The most common consequences are: irritability, frustration and deterioration of sexual relations. In fact, 85% of respondents to this study stated that their relationship with their partners would improve if snoring disappeared. In the most serious cases, snoring has become a ground  for divorce according to other studies. One study revealed that 10 %  of couples ended in divorce because of the unbearable snoring of their spouse.

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In other cases more serious, the snoring goes beyond the social problem, directly affecting the health of those who suffer it. This occurs when the snoring is caused by repeated respiratory pauses during sleep. In these cases,  it can be considered a possible case of sleep apnea/hypopnea whose most characteristic symptom is snoring.

It is therefore important to differentiate between the simple snoring and the snoring caused by a pathological disease. Therefore, when it occurs frequently, it is advisable to visit a specialist to evaluate the origin of snoring.

What are the most common causes?

The sound of snoring occurs when an obstruction hinders the passage of air through the back of the mouth and the nose. In this area the base of the tongue is connected with the uvula and when they collide, a vibration is produced during breathing and that makes the occurrence of the annoying sound of snoring. Therefore, the most common cause among people who snore is the narrowing of the airways.

There are the factors that support the occurrence of snoring. The fat accumulated by overweight contributes to the obstruction of the pharynx. The sleeping position is also a factor to be taken into account. The consumption of tobacco, alcohol or medications that relax the muscles of the pharynx also aggravates the events of snoring.

In other cases, snoring can be caused by malformations or deviations: excessive development of the tissues of the throat (the large tonsils is a frequent cause of the snoring of children), excessive length of the uvula, a large palate or deformity of the nasal septum. The obstructions of the nasal cavity can also produce snoring, because it forces you to make an effort when breathing through the nose. This may occur in cases of infection by cold or allergies.

How to avoid snoring?

The cases of simple snoring can be avoided or reduced by taking a series of measures to facilitate the passage of air toward the lungs:

  • Avoid sleeping face up, because the tongue goes back and blocks the airway.
  • Keep the room wet. The dry air can cause inflammation of the nasal mucosa to impede the passage of air.
  • Sleep with your head at a higher level than the rest of the body.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, tobacco or medications that can relax the muscles of the pharynx.
  • Consider losing weight.
  • Don’t go to sleep immediately after dinner.

Sleep Apnea, the most negative cause of snoring

Adult man, snorer and with overweight, as well as women in menopause are most common profiles of the sleep apnea patients.

As mentioned earlier, in addition to being a social problem, snoring can be a sign of a pathological disease, seriously affecting the health of the affected.

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When snoring occurs intensively and frequently, it happens to be considered a symptom of one of the most frequent sleep disorders: Sleep Apnea. Snoring is linked to the apneas or hypopneas, i.e. respiratory pauses of at least 10 seconds that are repeated throughout the night and are produced by a blockage of the airway that prevents the passage of the air.

In these cases, before making any quick conclusion, it is necessary to go to a dentist to make the corresponding diagnosis and evaluate the timely treatment.

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