Does your partner complain that you snore loudly? Are you easily awakened while sleeping? If you are having trouble with a good night’s sleep, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a more common condition than one would initially expect. This condition causes intermittent pauses and starts in breathing during sleep. It is observed that men snore more than women and such irregularities need to be evaluated at an ENT Clinic.
Dr. Annabelle Leong, an experienced ENT specialist trained in the UK, Canada and Singapore, is highly qualified in treating obstructive sleep apnea in both children and adults. She also manages all other types of ENT conditions, including sleep disorders, sinusitis and hearing difficulties. It is important to understand the reasons behind your snoring to understand obstructive sleep apnea. Below she shares more details on the condition.
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What Are The Reasons Behind Snoring?
There could be many reasons for snoring. Generally, when you progress from a light to a deep sleep, the muscles located in the soft palate, throat and the tongue relax. The throat tissues could relax and partially block the airway and then the tissues vibrate. The airflow becomes forceful when there is a narrower airway. The vibration in the tissues increases causing the snoring to be louder. Some of the factors to consider include:
The anatomy of the mouth: A narrow airway can be caused by a low, thick soft palate. Individuals who are obese can carry excess tissue in the back of the throat lining which will narrow the airways. Obstruction of the airflow can cause the vibration to increase, leading to snoring.
Nasal Obstructions: Having a deviated nasal septum or chronic nasal congestion can lead to snoring.
Alcohol consumption: Consuming alcohol prior to bedtime can cause the throat muscles to relax and decrease the natural defenses against airway obstruction. This leads to snoring.
Sleep position: When an individual sleeps on their back, snoring is the loudest and more frequent as gravity acts to narrow the airway.
Sleep deprivation: Lack of sufficient sleep can cause the throat muscles to relax leading to snoring.
What Are The Lifestyle Changes Which Can Help To Reduce Snoring?
Weight control: If you are obese, then controlling the weight helps to reduce the excess fatty tissue around the neck which is a cause for snoring.
Quit Smoking: It is important to quit smoking as it can irritate the nasal lining which can cause a chronic inflammatory process to occur.
Alcohol Reduction: Excessive consumption of alcohol must be reduced before sleep as it can lead to a collapse in the airways and a drop in blood sugar levels too.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?
The most significant signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Fatigue in daytime
- Pauses while sleeping
- Abrupt awakening from sleep
- Headaches in morning
- Sore throat
- Mood swings
- High blood pressure
When To Seek Medical Intervention?
If you observe that your partner is experiencing:
- Pauses in breathing while sleeping
- Choking or gasping and then waking up
- Disturbingly loud snoring
- Falling asleep inappropriately during the daytime or while driving
Not everyone who snores has obstructive sleep apnea, but it is important to have an ENT consultation to rule out the condition or address the issues. If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, then you can discuss with your OSA specialist and otolaryngologist about a suitable treatment plan.