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It is estimated that about 45% of adults will snore occasionally, but this does not include the habitual type snorers which include about 25% of the population. The majority of problem snorers are found more frequently in people who are overweight and males, which usually will worsen as they get older. However, there are many reasons that people snore and not all of these reasons are because of a long-term condition.

How Does Snoring Happen and What Causes It?

Snoring sounds can be noisy. Usually this is because something is obstructing the air flow as it passes through the nose and the mouth’s back. In fact, that area is a collapsible section where the upper part of the throat and tongue meet with the uvula and the soft part of the palate. Snoring happens when those parts hit against each other, vibrating as the person breathes. This might be caused by one of five things:

• The throat and tongue muscles are poorly toned, meaning that as the muscles relax, whether from drug or alcohol induced sleep or being in a deepened sleep, the tongue can fall back into the person’s airway. Alternatively, the muscles of the throat are drawn inwards from the sides of the mouth and into the main airway.

• Bulky throat tissues are excessive and impede the airway. This can occur when the adenoids or tonsils become enlarged, the neck tissues are overweight, and or tumors or cysts are present and have grown substantially. However, the latter is quite rare.

• The uvula and/or the lengthiness of the soft part of the palate narrow the nose’s opening into the person’s throat. As this dangles further into the airway, the valve flutters noisily whilst the person breathes. If the uvula is too long, this can accentuate the level of the noise.

• The airways of the nose are obstructed, whether through a blocked or stuffed nose. This makes it harder for the person to draw in air, thus creating a vacuum type space in the throat. As a result, the throat’s floppy type tissues are pulled together and cause a loud noise. This is why snoring can happen if the person has hay fever or other allergies, and when a person has the flu, a sinus type infection or a cold. In addition, nasal septum or nose deformities may deviate, separating the nostrils away from each other causing a further obstruction.
• Loud snores are interrupted with frequently and completely obstructed breathing episodes. Known as obstructive sleep apnea, these episodes may last for as much as 10 seconds, happening up to 7 times/hour. In fact, most people who get obstructive sleep apnea may get as many as thirty to three hundred of these episodes each night. In fact, this is very dangerous because the blood oxygen type levels can drop, making the heart pump faster and harder to get oxygen to the rest of the body from the lungs. Over a period of years, this continued series of events can cause exhaustion, an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.

Potential Solutions for Snoring

Usually those who snore heavily do so in most sleeping positions which can be disruptive to anyone sleeping under the same roof, let alone in the same bed. Snoring can be prevented for the most part, in the case of allergies and drug and alcohol. However, snorers should get help from a doctor who can examine their neck, palate, throat, mouth and nose. Sleep studies can also determine the severity of the snoring causes, how it affects the person’s health and whether there is any apnea involved. Treatments vary depending on what the doctor diagnoses. In fact, light snoring can be treated by avoiding antihistamines, alcohol, sleeping pills and tranquilizers prior to sleeping, as well heavy snacks/meals 3 hours prior to and alcohol 4 hours prior to going to bed. Additionally, establishing regular patterns of sleeping, adopting athletic/healthy lifestyles, losing weight, sleeping on one’s dies and/or tilting one’s head up by 4 inches might help. Other issues may require medical intervention, including varied types of surgery.

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