Snoring is caused by vibrations in the soft palate and the nose the tissues of the nose, throat or mouth. While most people are snorers and a moderate bit of snoring generally isn’t too much cause for concern, in extreme cases it requires medical intervention to handle excessive snoring which can become or be a precursor to, severe health problems.
When to see a doctor?
In the last post about snoring, I suggested about getting rid of snoring naturally. But, sometimes, natural remedies doesn’t work at all. In that case, you should seek a physician’s advice if your snoring problem is affecting other areas of your life such as-
1) Making you tired and edgy throughout the day by affecting the quality of your sleep at night.
2) If you snore heavily and loudly and this hampering you relationship with your partner.
3) Snores and falls asleep at wrong times, such as when talking to someone or while eating dinner/lunch.
4) If you wake up in the middle of the night, choking or gasping for breath. This could be a symptom of a more severe condition called sleep apnoea where you stop breathing intermittently as you sleep.
Treating a snoring problem without medical intervention
If you have a mild case of snoring, chances are it can be cured without medical or surgical intervention. It is quite possible to manage a low grade snoring problem by making lifestyle changes or using some anti-snoring devices that are easily available over the counter.
- Lifestyle changes : All specialists and doctors generally advice certain healthy lifestyle changes as a first step to deal with a snoring problem. These include
- Losing weight really helps getting rid most sleep related issues.
- Sleep early and wake up early. This is an old saying but it’s very effective not only for good sleep but for you over all health. Set fix bed timings.
- Drastically cutting down on alcohol intake. Instead, take lot of juices and water.
- Eat healthy food. Increase intake of Honey, Soy Milk, Turmeric etc in your diet.
- Quitting smoking to free up your air passages and allow you to breathe easier
- Regular exercise to strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles to prevent narrowing of the air passage and reducing snoring
- Doing some Pranayama and Yoga regularly. Specially Bhramari or Humming Pranayama and Ujjayi pranayama.
- Anti-snoring devices : This generally is the second step of effective snoring treatment wherein you can use anti-snoring devices that are easily available at most major pharmacies in tandem with lifestyle changes or as an alternative if lifestyle changes fail to help you much.
- Nasal strips à These are self-adhesive tapes that look like sticking plaster strips. They are of particular help if your snores emanate from your nose. They help pull your nostrils apart and widen the air passageway.
- Nasal dilators à This device also handles nasal snoring. It looks like a plastic or metal nose ring. You place it inside your nose to spread your nostrils and allow increased passage of air.
- Chin strips à These are meant to help reduce oral snoring or snores that originate because your mouth falls open while you sleep to take in more air. You have to place them under your chin to hold your mouth shut as you sleep.
- Mandibular advancement devices à This is a device you place inside your mouth to push your tongue and jaw forward as you sleep. It increases the space at the back of your throat and reduces clogging in the air duct that causes the snores.
- You can also try out anti snoring pillows. The manufacturers claim that they keep airways open but they are as effective as anti snoring devices. So there’s no comparison at all.
Surgery to treat snoring
Although some surgical techniques are available to cure snoring, they are usually resorted to as a last option if all other methods to cure the problem have failed. Also, it is not a viable option for most kinds of snoring and advised if you suffer from sleep apnoea. You must take Doctor’s advice before going for surgery. There are four main types of surgery that are performed to deal with snoring. They are as follows –
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) : It’s used in cases where the soft tissue of the mouth, excluding the tongue is responsible for the snoring problem. The surgeon may remove your uvula – a piece of soft tissue on the roof of your mouth; some soft palate and excess tissue around the base of your throat; and in some cases your tonsils and adenoids – lumps of tissue behind the palate. While UPPP has a 50% success rate in totally curing snoring, it sometimes affects your ability to pronounce some words as the uvula is removed.
- Uvulopalatoplasty (UP) : Also called laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is emerging as a popular alternative to UPPP for its low risk margin. While it uses lasers to burn away excess soft palate tissue and some of the uvula, it can also cause considerable post-operative pain, and according to experts is less effective than UPPP in the long run.
- Soft palate implants : These, as the name suggests, are used when your snoring is caused by vibrations in the soft palate. You are given local anaesthesia after which several synthetic implants are inserted into your soft palate to stiffen it and cut down on vibrations.
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) : An alternative to soft palate implants, this procedure involves the insertion of an electrode that emits high frequency radio waves into your soft palate under local anaesthesia. The radio waves shrink and harden your tissue to reduce vibrations. RFA can be carried out on an outpatient basis and does not require hospitalisation.
Firstly, try to cure your snoring and sleep related issues using natural remedies but if they don’t work then you need other options. These anti snoring devices and surgery methods are the best known solutions available these days. Doctors and Scientists are working everyday to find better solutions. I’ll keep you informed about any new research and solutions.