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Snoring Can Lead to Serious Medical Problems

istock_000009145553xsmallAccording to The Mayo Clinic snoring affects almost half of adults at least on occasion. Snoring occurs when the air flow past relaxed tissues in the throat, soft palate (roof of mouth) and/or tongue cause them to vibrate which partially obstructs the airway.

Some of the contributing factors to snoring may be the anatomy of the mouth. If the soft palate is low or thick it can narrow the airway. Alcohol is also a possible factor in snoring. Alcohol consumed before bedtime can relax the muscles of the throat and decreases the body’s natural defenses against airway obstruction. Even nasal problems such as chronic nasal congestion or a deviated septum have been linked to snoring.

One of the more serious factors in snoring is a condition known as sleep apnea which is when the tissue of the throat obstructs the airway preventing breathing. Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring followed by periods of silence that lasts for 10 seconds or more. The snorer will be awakened when their oxygen level drops and the carbon dioxide levels increase essentially choking them causing them to wake up and begin to breathe normally again.

As common as snoring is most people are not aware that it can be just a symptom of something else and can even lead to a raised risk of developing high blood pressure, heart failure or even stroke. In children it can raise the risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD).

There are treatments for snoring, some of which are simple and others which are more complicated. Oral appliances are sometimes prescribed to help alleviate snoring. These are form fitting dental mouthpieces that advance the position of the tongue and soft palate and keep the airways open.

Some of the more advanced but sometimes necessary solutions include surgery. A surgeon may use a general anesthesia go in to trim and tighten tissue in the throat. There is a form of laser surgery which is done on an outpatient basis and consists of the use of a hand-held laser being used to shorten the soft palate and remove the uvula which enlarges the air passages.

Some people prefer alternative medicine to traditional forms and have found some success using hypnosis and even singing. Hypnosis uses hypnotic suggestion to trigger the snorer to turn on their side hopefully decreasing the snoring. Singing for 20 minutes a day is said to help strengthen the soft palate and upper throat. Neither of these forms of help has been proven through any type of studies.

Snoring is not just annoying for the people who share a bed with the person who snores. It can be a symptom of a more serious problem and even lead to serious problems. If snoring goes on for an extended period of time it may be necessary to seek medical attention.

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