What Causes Snoring?
The causes of snoring are many and varied. Before stopping it, we need to find out what the common causes of this disorder are. The vibrations in the throat and nose can not only be annoying for your spouse or other people in your home, but can be a real health concern. The causes vary from person to person. When a child or elderly person snores, this disorder can be an indicator of a more serious condition and these needs to be addressed by a physician.
I have five children and they all have what I euphemistically call, “South Jersey allergies”. Because of the amount of pollen expelled by blooming trees, flowers and grass, wheezing is not uncommon among this age group. To this day, my wife and I, since we grew up here, still have these allergies and when we are really congested, we do snore. If you find that you are snoring more during the spring and fall months, it is entirely possible that seasonal allergies are the likely culprit. Another culprit could well be a cold or possibly strep throat. There irritation in the nasal passages and throat with the concomitant congestion can cause you to become a “mouth breather” and because you dry out, snoring can be the result. In
In 2005, my ten ear old son came down with a severe case of Whooping Cough and due to the debilitating nature of this illness and his snoring, he missed school for weeks. One remedy we tried was turning on all the hot water taps in the bathroom and making him sit in the bathroom until the coughing lessened. When he did that, he was able to sleep and not only was he more comfortable, but his snoring was reduced. Last year, my wife was diagnosed with Acquired Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Double Pneumonia. They way that I was able to figure out just how sick she was was the snoring the night before she was sent to the hospital. She was placed in a medically induced coma for ten days so her lungs and throat could heal and when she came home, she wasn’t snoring any more. Any forms of COPD, chronic bronchitis and other more serious medical issues could very well be at the heart of snoring. All of these conditions should be checked out by a physician or in the case of my wife, a pulmonologist or ear, nose and throat doctor.
WHAT CAUSES SNORING? UNDERLYING CONDITIONS
Another common one of the many causes of snoring is obesity. If you are obese, when you lie down and your throat and surrounding tissues relax, you may snore. If your tonsils or adenoids are infected, inflamed or sore, your ear, nose and throat doctor may be a huge help and prescribe anti-histamines, some cold medications or other treatments like a vaporizer if the air is too dry.
Some dental issues can also cause snoring like mal-adjusted teeth or even cleft palate. When my daughter was fourteen, her teeth were so mal-adjusted and she snored every night, it kept her awake and she had to sleep sitting up. After having her wisdom teeth removed and receiving braces, the snoring ceased and she was able to sleep through the night.
In the diagnosis of cleft palate and cleft lip and their seriousness, the only treatment is surgery. Cleft palate is more common in boys and cleft lip is more common in girls, both conditions come about during fetal development. Cleft lip is much easier to treat than cleft palate because the disorder is usually confined to the upper lip to the right or left nostril or possibly both. With a cleft lip being present, air is passing through the gap and, snoring is one of the symptoms. As long as the symmetry is preserved and the procedure is performed correctly, recovery is usually pretty fast and by the time the child is twelve, one wouldn’t notice that the girl ever had the deformity. In the case of cleft palate, the procedure is a little more complicated because of the involvement of the hard palate and surrounding tissues. As is the case with braces, a Latham device has a screw attached that the parents can turn in preparation for the procedure. Then, the tissues are connected at the right angle. After the post surgical healing has been completed, the snoring will cease.
Another common cause of snoring is excessive drinking, smoking or even certain medications. When one consumes too much alcohol or someone smokes excessively, the damage done to their mouth or lungs causes a fluid build up and wheezing and snoring are the result. The solution is simple…eliminate or cut down on both of these habits. When muscles in the throat and abdominal walls are too relaxed, the tissues in the throat will vibrate. Medications that can cause snoring, like, Diazepam and Lorazepam and like alcohol and excessive cigarette smoking, cause the muscles to become overly relaxed.
How about age? Age does play a factor in not only the quality of sleep you get, but also your ability to pass air to your lungs. As we age, the tissues in your throat become narrower and because of this narrowing, we snore. The quality of sleep you get will change over time as well and this is because the position of your sleep may need to be adjusted. If you sleep on your back, you may find yourself snoring more and so you might want to try sleeping on your side instead.
One common cause of snoring is sleep apnea. This can be dangerous and even deadly. What happens is that one will hold his breath for long gaps, gasp, and begin to snore or even stop breathing all together. That is what makes this disorder so dangerous. One indicator for sleep apnea is waking up frequently in the middle of the night. The way to determine if sleep apnea is the issue is going to a sleep study. During the study, a technician will monitor your breathing, how often you breathe, if there are long gaps and gasping for air and snoring. Obese people are more likely to have sleep apnea because they can’t move air as effectively as people who are a normal weight and tend to snore.
How to Stop Snoring and Snoring Remedies
In doing the research for snoring solutions for this article, I was reminded that when I was in the Greater South Jersey Chorus, we had to build up our throat muscles by singing the vowels a, e, i, o and u combined with a consonant, and these warm up exercises gave us quite the workout. Consulting with a vocal or voice teacher, specializing in public speaking can really strengthen weak and flabby throat muscles. Not only can throat muscles become weak over time, but so can the jaw’s as well. I recommend moving your lower jaw to the left…hold it for thirty seconds…then move it to the middle, hold it for thirty seconds and finally move it to the right and hold it for thirty seconds… repeat the process for approximately five minutes. Clarinetists and other wind players do exercises like this to strengthen jaw muscles and mouth muscles. There is no reason why you can’t do these exercises. If they are too hard, try holding your jaw in place for fifteen seconds instead.
There are devices available to keep your teeth and mouth in alignment so that snoring does not become an issue. These only work if the root problem is one involving the mouth, teeth or other soft tissues. One of the most common problems is that your nostrils become clogged and close up. Breathe-Rite Nasal Strips pull your nostrils open and keep them like open so you are getting more air, your sleep is better and snoring is reduced. The opposite of a nasal strip is a dilator. The theory is the same….keep the nostrils open by pushing down on your nostrils so you get more air into your lungs and snoring is reduced.
As I stated earlier in this article, medications can be of use as snoring remedies, however, I recommend using them with discretion because, in the case of anti-histamines and other allergy medications, they can be addictive. So, while you are addressing one issue, you could inadvertently be creating another. Another reason that the use of OTC meds should be monitored carefully is that you could very well reach the point of diminishing returns. After a certain amount of time, you may find yourself actually more congested.
A common condition that many children have is recurrent strep infections. The root causes many times are infected sinuses, adenoids and tonsils. These infections need to be addressed and sometimes, surgery is the only way to address this. Another condition that needs to addressed at this point involving various cancers of the throat and mouth. Because there are pre-operative and post-operative medications that are brought on board and because some over the counter medications can cause interference with the absorption of anesthetics, avoid taking any medications until you have consulted with the anesthesiologist or surgeon.
A neuro-surgeon may need to be called because in some cases, the brain tells your body to stop breathing. Fortunately, this is not very common, however, it does need to be addressed. One serious problem is that many people not regain full consciousness and may actually drive, eat and even attempt to have sex and not remember the incident the next day. If you have a loved one with central nervous system damage after a stroke or other traumatic brain injury his neurological status needs to be carefully monitored. Not only can this type of damage cause snoring, it also can be life threatening. One way to tell if you’re snoring caused by sleep apnea is your mood during the day. If you are restless, irritable or depressed, you may be having a bout of sleep apnea.
Regardless of the snoring solutions you have tried or are trying, do not give up on finding an effective treatment plan. There are even studies you can participate in and some will even pay you. Unfortunately, because everyone’s sleep styles vary, you may find that the plans offered, like any other medical procedure is a simple matter of trial and error. A note about CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines.
They are a fine solution for alleviating snoring, but you need to be cautioned that the lines must be cleared out. The reason is that these machines can become clogged, mold can develop as can bacteria. The average CPAP functions at a noise level of twenty-five to thirty decibels. There are two types, automatic and fixed pressure. The automatic type potentially has the problem of it misinterpreting the amount of air you need based on your breathing and snoring.
The fixed pressure version is one that you set yourself. If you do not set the device at the right pressure, you may find yourself needing to wake up and re-set it. Typically, the automatic CPAP machine will adjust the amount of air you need very effectively. If you don’t need as much air later on it will bring the pressure down…if you need more, it will adjust and bring the pressure up. Most CPAP machines use rechargeable batteries and you don’t have to have multiple machines when you go away on a vacation. Some models can be plugged into a wall socket and run off the one-hundred twenty volt line in your home instead of only using it on battery mode.
Sometimes, what causes snoring is your pillow. Maybe it is too soft, too firm or just plain worn out. You do NOT want a pillow that sags too much because that can cause your throat to become constricted. If it is too firm, it can become too warm and that cause snoring as well. The heating and ventilation system should be checked also and if it is too cold or too warm it can interfere with quality sleep and therefore, snoring can be a result. Before going through some complicated, possibly expensive treatments or snoring remedies, I recommend looking into simple snoring solutions at first. Then, if needs must, consult with your physician and see about the many possible conditions you may have, finding out the root conditions will show what causes snoring in your case. It is entirely possible that you have only one or possibly more than one happening at the same time. By way of example, if your tonsils and adenoids are the issue and you are taking too high or too low a dose of an anti-histamine, snoring can become very pronounced. It is only prudent to look at all the possibilities so you get effective care to stop snoring.