Snoring is a common problem among adults. Although it can also occur in children, it is more common in people over the age of 30 and gets worse with age. Snoring interferes with the body’s normal recovery during sleep and disrupts the sleep of the person sleeping next to you. It can make daily life, work life and relationships with loved ones more difficult. How to deal with the problem of snoring?
Causes of snoring in adults
Snoring is a characteristic sound made during sleep. When we sleep, the tissues of the upper respiratory tract descend and partially block the airway – the flowing air meets resistance and causes vibrations that result in snoring.
The most common causes of snoring in adults are anomalies in the anatomy of the throat and nasopharyngeal cavity, e.g. crooked nasal septum, polyps. Factors that may exacerbate snoring in adults are::
- overweight and obesity,
- taking substances that relax the muscles, such as alcohol and medicines (sleeping pills, sedatives, anti-allergies),
- sleeping on your back,
- a blocked nose due to a cold or allergie,
- over 50 years of age,
- male gender,
- hormonal changes during pregnancy and the menopause,
- genetic predisposition.
Why do men snore more often?
The problem of snoring in adults affects men more often than women. According to statistics, about 20% of women and as many as 40% of men snore. Why such a difference? The reason can be found both in unhealthy habits, to which men are more often predisposed, and in the specific anatomical structure of the male neck rim. Their neck and neck are more muscular than in women. The effect of this can be a greater narrowing of the airway in this section. The problem of snoring in women increases after menopause, when there is a decrease in female sex hormones (oestrogen), resulting in partial anatomical changes in the upper airway.
Consequences of snoring
One of the problems that snoring poses is unpleasant sounds that are annoying to those around you. Sometimes these are easy to tolerate quiet vibrations and whistles, other times very loud burps, snorting or rumbling. According to some studies, snoring can be as loud as 70 decibels, while a noise level of 30 decibels is enough to wake us up. Not surprisingly, snoring is often a problem for the sleeping partner and other people in the house.
People who snore may toss and turn during sleep, experience a dry and sore throat upon awakening and fatigue during the day. All these discomforts mean that snoring significantly reduces the quality of sleep and makes it difficult for the body to fully recover. It causes headaches, difficulty concentrating and mood swings. Loud or prolonged snoring increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and other health problems. In some cases, snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, which causes hypoxia and disrupts the function of many vital organs, including the heart. Untreated apnoea contributes to the development of conditions such as hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, among others.
Are there effective home remedies for snoring?
The most important part of successful snoring treatment is proper lifestyle and sleep hygiene. Take care of your diet and regular physical activity to keep your body weight at a healthy level. Give up stimulants – stop smoking, limit alcohol. Also reduce the amount of caffeine you drink in a day. Drink coffee in the first part of the day, as its effects can last up to eight hours. Only take sleeping pills, tranquillisers and antidepressants under medical supervision.
Sleep hygiene is extremely important in the prevention of snoring. Air your bedroom and humidify the air. When you sleep, it should be completely dark and quiet around you. It is also important to have a comfortable mattress and bedding adapted to the ambient temperature. There are special orthopaedic pillows designed for snoring persons. The body position during sleep is also important. We snore more frequently when lying on our backs. Loose tissues fall backwards and cause narrowing of the throat. When the sleeper changes to a side position, the snoring often (but not always) stops or the sound becomes quieter. One home remedy for snoring is to sew a tennis ball into the back of a sleep shirt – this prevents sleeping on the back.
What to do about snoring in adults?
We certainly should not, without the knowledge of a doctor, resort to various gadgets or, even worse, tablets or other remedies for snoring. On the other hand, special nose patches, which dilate the nostrils and make breathing easier for some people during sleep, are relatively safe. If your partner snores loudly, wake them up gently and ask them to lie on their side (if they are lying on their back). Ways to stop snoring, such as plugging the snorer’s mouth or nose, are practices that are dangerous to the snorer. Pay attention to whether your partner has pauses in their breathing – these may be signs of obstructive apnoea and require specialist help.
Since snoring in adults can be a symptom of serious health problems, consult your doctor if you have been snoring for a long time. Your doctor will perform the appropriate tests based on which he or she can make a diagnosis and implement treatment. The treatment of snoring may include: the use of intraoral devices, CPAP devices, performing procedures under local anesthesia, and in the most difficult cases, surgical treatment under general anesthesia. Cooperation with a dietician is often needed.
A breakthrough in the diagnosis of snoring and obstructive apnoea is the Clebre sensor, which allows the study of sleep in a home environment. The device detects and counts episodes of snoring and records breathing during sleep. Measurements can take place daily for many days. The sensor is small and does not disturb your sleep, and the results are recorded in an intuitive app. The Clebre device helps to accurately diagnose the snoring problem and undertake individualised therapy.