What Causes Snoring?
The sounds of snoring occur because of obstruction of the flow of air through the passages of the nose and back of the mouth. A flaccid soft palate will vibrate and obstruct the flow of air through the nose causing snoring and sometimes sleep apnea.
Forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. Snoring tends to be more frequent in males and those overweight, and usually grows worse with age. Alcohol and sedatives can also contribute to snoring and sleep disordered breathing.
Is Snoring Serious?
Yes, both medically and socially. Snoring is a problem for the snorer as well as the bed partner. On average, the bed partner of a snorer loses at least an hour of sleep every night. Because the partner’s sleep is interrupted so frequently, it isn't deep and restful. As a result, they can be irritable, resentful, and even unsafe at the wheel while driving. Sleep deprivation can also compromise the immune system and lead to low energy, decreased productivity and poor thinking. Chronic snoring can even be a sign of a more serious health problem, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Eventually, the lack of sleep can cause the snorer or bed partner to move to a different room. This tends to put quite a strain on a relationship. Or maybe you don't have to imagine at all, because you're already living with a loved one who can’t stop snoring.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by interruptions and cessations in breathing during sleep, which can occur up to hundreds of times a night.
It is estimated that one in five adults in the United States suffers from mild obstructive sleep apnea. One in 15 adults in the United States suffers from moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. Consider these statistics:
Almost half of all people with obstructive sleep apnea develop high blood pressure (hypertension), which raises the risk of heart failure and stroke.
People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea are up to 6 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident as a result of drowsiness than those without sleep disorders.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to alter hormones and metabolism involved in weight gain.
The most common procedure for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). There are also surgical procedures that remove or alter tissue at the back of the throat, such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) and laser-assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP). These surgical procedures are invasive and often painful options that can require weeks of recovery time and pain medications.