Snoring, causes and treatments
Where does snoring come from?During the night, all the muscles in the body relax to rest. The tissues of the throat and tongue will, when relaxed, cause sagging of the upper respiratory tract. The air which continues to pass through the reduced pathways will then create sound vibrations in the tissues, otherwise known as "snoring". This is the same effect that occurs when the nasal passages are blocked during a cold.
In some cases the obstruction is so severe that the air can no longer pass, causing breathing stops during the night: this is called sleep apnea. These short pauses in breathing can be worrying for those around you, but they are mostly detrimental to your quality of sleep.
What to do about snoring?
- Watch your weight
Being overweight is one of the main triggering or aggravating factors of snoring since the excess fat masses around the pharynx will contribute to the obstruction of the airways. Losing weight can therefore be an effective way to limit or even avoid snoring.
- Sleep on your stomach or on your side
Sleeping on your back increases the pressure on the throat. There are different systems, such as special pillows, which make the position on the back uncomfortable to force the sleeper to adopt a different position naturally. For two out of three snorers, it is enough to adopt a position on the side to stop the snoring.
- No alcohol in the evening
Alcohol (like some medicines) helps relax muscles. Drinking alcohol in the evening therefore contributes to increasing the obstruction of the airways by the relaxation of the muscles a few hours later.
When snoring is associated with sleep apnea, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), or in some cases maxillofacial surgery, may be recommended. In the case of simple snoring, a local treatment can be prescribed as a nasal spray. Other treatments such as nasal dilators may be considered although they are not suitable for everyone and their effects may be limited. If the snoring is very loud and socially annoying, one can also consider a mandibular propellant treatment.
It is also advisable to treat all the related pathologies which can induce or aggravate snoring such as allergic rhinitis, nasal obstructions for various reasons, septal deviation, polyposis, etc. With regard to the soft palate, surgical interventions are increasingly rare since their effectiveness is limited in time and they are not without risks.