Snoring & Upper Airway Obstruction

Snoring is a sound produced by the vibrations of the tissues of the nose and throat on breathing during sleep. Snoring is more common in men than women, and often increases with advancing age.

Normally when we breathe, air flows in and out in a steady flow from nose or mouth to lungs. During sleep the area at the back of the throat, nose or mouth may become narrowed and when the air passes through this narrow opening the surrounding tissues vibrate producing sounds of snoring.

The most common cause of snoring is nasal passage obstruction caused from nasal septum deviation, allergies, sinus infections, swollen turbinates (nasal concha) and enlarged tonsils. Certain medications and alcohol increase the relaxation of the muscles of the palate, tongue, neck, and pharynx leading to smaller airway and greater tissue vibration resulting in snoring.

Snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea. It may also be seen in children.

How can Snoring be treated?

Behavioural changes: This therapy includes losing weight if overweight, avoiding alcohol or sedative medications, stop smoking, and changing sleeping positions.

Dental devices: Dental devices hold the jaw forward and these devices may be used for mild snoring

Nasal devices and medications: Nasal steroid sprays may be used to decrease the inflammation in the nasal passages. Adhesive nasal patches are available which can be placed over the nose to help manage snoring

Surgical treatment: Surgery may be needed to correct anatomic abnormalities. These procedures are designed to optimise the upper airway size and shape.

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