What is Snoring?
Snoring is when you breathe during sleep with a hoarse noise due to vibration of the soft palate. Most everyone knows of someone who snores, and it can be a bothersome sound that many people shrug off or laugh at, but it’s important to know that snoring may be a sign of a more serious medical condition called sleep apnea.
That is why it’s important to have a consultation with a health care provider to determine if there is more to your snore.
- 1 in 3 adults snore on a regular basis and up to 50% snore occasionally.
- There could be up to 80 million regularly snoring adults in the United States.
- Snoring can be inherited. Nearly 70% of snorers have a hereditary link.
- 5-7% of children are habitual snorers.
- Men snore at a ratio of 2:1 to women. The gap narrows as women get older and reach menopause.
- Up to 59% of people report that their partner snores in bed. 23% of couples sleep in separate beds.
- Snorers are 3 times more likely to suffer adverse health conditions than non-snorers.
Why Do People Snore?
When you are awake the tissues in the throat and upper airway are open and allow air to flow to the lungs smoothly, but when a person falls asleep the soft tissues relax and can partially block the airway. When you snore, your airway is being partially blocked by the soft tissues in the back of the throat including the tongue and soft palate.
The Snoring Sound
The noise comes from the vibration of these collapsed tissues in the back of the throat as air struggles to pass over the blockage when you breathe during sleep.
It’s very much like the sound a flag makes when it waves in the wind.
This can happen even when the tissues are normal sized because when you fall asleep the muscles in the throat, soft palate, and uvula relax.
Most snoring usually falls between 50 and 80 decibels (db).
To put this in perspective, a normal conversation is around 60db, a vacuum cleaner 70db, and anything above 90db, such as a power lawn mower has the potential to cause ear damage after prolonged exposure.
The loudest recorded snore was at 111 db! That is literally the volume of a freight train.
Causes Of Snoring
There are many factors that need to be taken into account when determining why a person has an obstructed airway during sleep. Some of the causes can include, but are not limited to:
Sleeping position: Sleeping on your back can increase the severity of an obstructed airway.
Enlarged tonsils or adenoids: Enlarged tissues can contribute to a narrow airway.
Deviated nasal septum: Obstruction in the nasal passage way can cause snoring.
Muscle relaxers or sleeping pills: Causes the tissues to relax more than normal increasing the risk of airway blockage.
Excess weight: Especially around the neck can increase the risk of airway blockage through excess or enlarged tissues.
Smoking or drinking alcohol: Any sedatives or airway irritants can increase the risk of airway collapsibility.
In children, snoring should never be ignored; it may increase the risk of attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral problems. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider right away if you have witnessed your child snore or stop breathing while they sleep.
Why Is Snoring Dangerous?
Snoring can be associated with several types of sleep disorders; the most common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). All of these have one thing in common – you are not breathing normally while you sleep and you need to consult a health care provider to receive the help you need to get a better night’s sleep.
The concern is that the collapse of the airway causes a decrease of airflow to the lungs, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. Not only does snoring affect your sleep, but untreated snoring can increase your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.
If you or someone you know snores they should consult a medical professional trained in snoring and sleep disorders as it could be a sign of a more serious medical condition.
A quick consultation with your Gulfside Dental dentist can help determine if it is more than snoring and get you on the path to start feeling better.