Dentist in Balham, London

40 Balham High Road
Balham, London SW12 9AQ

Telephone: 0208 675 7307

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TELL ME ABOUT > Snoring

Definition
Snoring is the sound produced by obstructed breathing during sleep. Snoring is not harmful but it can be a symptom of a more serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea.

Causes
Snoring results when air cannot move freely through the air passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This causes vibration of the roof of the mouth and uvula, which creates the snoring sound. The smaller airways, result in more obstruction, and the louder the snoring. This airway obstruction can be caused by:

  • Decreased muscle tone in the tongue and throat
  • Enlarged tonsils, adenoids, or other obstructions (e.g., tumours)
  • Excessive tissue around the throat due to obesity
  • Structural factors
    • A long soft palate (roof of the mouth)
    • A long uvula
    • Deformities of the nose or nasal septum
    • Small chin, overbite, or high palate (in women)
  • Congested nasal passages from a cold, flu, sinus infection, or allergies

Risk Factors
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

  • Sex: Male
  • Being overweight
  • Age: Over 50

Symptoms
The main symptom of snoring is noisy breathing during sleep. The following symptoms may indicate that obstructive sleep apnoea is causing the snoring:

  • While sleeping:
    • Gasping
    • Choking
    • Pauses in breathing
    • Suddenly awakening
  • While awake:
    • Sleepiness during the day
    • Headaches
    • Slowness in mental functioning

Diagnosis
If your snoring is severe, the doctor will want to make sure you do not have obstructive sleep apnoea. Diagnosis may involve:

  • Physical exam of the throat, neck, mouth, and nose
  • A sleep study in a laboratory to determine if snoring is serious enough to disrupt sleep

Treatment
In cases of simple snoring without sleep apnoea, lifestyle changes will usually alleviate symptoms. More severe cases may require surgery or devices.


Lifestyle Changes
Changes that may help stop snoring include:

  • If you are overweight, lose weight.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or taking sedatives before bedtime.
  • Sleep on your side rather than on your back. Try taping a marble or tennis ball to your back before going to bed to prevent rolling onto your back.
  • Treat causes of nasal congestion such as allergies or colds.
  • Raise the head of the bed up about four inches. Use extra pillows or put something under the mattress.

Surgery
During surgery, a laser or scalpel can be used to remove excess tissue that is blocking the airway. Treatment by laser surgery requires a series of surgeries and is usually reserved for severe and disruptive cases of snoring.


Devices
Devices that can open airways during sleep include:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – involves wearing a nasal device during sleep that maintains continuous air pressure in the nose and upper throat to keep it open. It is more commonly used for people with obstructive sleep apnoea.
  • Dental devices are put into the mouth during sleep to position the soft palate for better breathing.
  • Nasal strips help widen nasal passages.


Prevention

You can take the following steps to help prevent snoring:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Treat cold and allergy symptoms.
  • Avoiding eating, drinking alcohol, or taking sedatives for several hours before bedtime.
  • Sleep on your side.

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