Cartoons often depict their sleeping characters as noisily and humorously snoring. When this happens to you or your bed partner in real life, however, it’s nothing to smile at. Rather, it could be indicative of serious breathing problems.
What causes the sound is simple: snoring occurs when inhaled air passes relaxed muscle tissue, which vibrates noisily. But why is this tissue so relaxed in the first place? Today, we’ll take a look at what causes snoring and how to stop it.
Smoking and Drinking
Making simple lifestyle changes should always be your first approach. Visitors to this blog should already know that the proscription of smoking is a recurring piece of advice for improving medical conditions, from asthma to ear infections. Among the many adverse effects of smoking tobacco is a decrease in muscle tone in the throat, which causes more vibration of tissue and, in turn, more snoring. Alcohol can have the same effect on muscle tone. While drinking in moderation is safe, if you’re struggling with snoring, you may want to avoid having a drink right before bed.
Sleeping on your back is a common cause of snoring. Lying on your back slightly blocks the airway by relaxing muscles in the throat. As we detailed above, air passing by relaxed muscles is what makes the signature sound of snoring. Sleeping on your side mitigates this condition by keeping the throat tenser than it would be if you were on your back. Inasmuch as we all toss, turn, and generally rearrange ourselves in our sleep over the course of a night, there’s only so much you can do to ensure you maintain one position. However, making an effort to fall asleep on your side can help greatly.
The allergic reactions that bedevil you in your waking hours can even bother you and your bed partner through the night. The inflamed mucous membranes that accompany an allergy make it harder for air to pass through, causing you to snore. As allergy season gets into full swing, first-line treatments such as over-the-counter antihistamines may help you resolve congestion before bed. But, in more serious cases, seeing an allergist near you may be the better bet.
In most cases, it’s easy to look at lifestyle patterns and allergy symptoms to determine the cause of your snoring. However, its cause may be a heretofore undiagnosed case of obstructive sleep apnea. If you not only snore through the night but also wake up intermittently and start your day feeling fatigued and insufficiently restored, sleep apnea may be the culprit. You may require a CPAP machine or balloon sinuplasty procedure to resolve your snoring and its dangerous underlying cause.
For an expert exploration of what causes your snoring and how to stop it, look for a snoring specialist near you—for readers in the Houston area, Allergy & ENT Associates can identify and resolve your snoring issues.