Is There a Cure for Snoring?
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Is There a Cure for Snoring?
Whether you are suffering from chronic snoring or your partner is, chances are it is beginning to affect your everyday life. Snoring isn’t just an annoying habit—it can be the (very loud) signal that something more serious is happening. If your partner is snoring, or if you have been told that your snoring is getting out of control, it is important to find a solution before your health worsens. Keep reading to learn about whether there is a cure for snoring, what might happen if snoring is left untreated, whether you may have sleep apnea, and how to get help today for snoring.
Understanding The Causes of Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Just about everyone will snore at some point in their lives for a variety of reasons. In fact, habitual snoring occurs in around 40% of adult women and 57% of adult men, and some people snore regularly without any other sleep-related symptoms.
According to The Sleep Foundation, snoring happens when air cannot flow freely through the airway as you breathe in and out during sleep. When the airway is narrowed or partially blocked, breathing causes the tissues of the upper airway to vibrate, resulting in the sound you hear when someone snores. There are many possible reasons that a person may have a chronically narrowed or blocked airway during sleep that causes snoring.
Some of the reasons an individual may snore include:
- Alcohol and other sedatives. Sedatives, including alcohol, cause the muscles to completely relax. This includes the muscles around the airway. As such, it can lead to snoring and can worsen snoring for those already suffering from chronic snoring.
- Congestion. Naturally, the body will breathe through the nose first thanks to its filtration system (more on this later in the blog). When the nasal passages are blocked from congestion due to allergies or a cold, the body will automatically switch to survival mode and allow breathing through the mouth. This will very likely lead to snoring.
- Sleeping on the back. Sleep position matters. If you are a back sleeper, you are more likely to snore. Snoring can decrease or go away completely when laying in a side position.
- Weight. When overweight, the airway becomes more narrow due to the extra fat tissue around the neck. If you or your loved one is overweight, a lifestyle change can greatly decrease the intensity of their snoring.
- Sleep apnea. If your loved one has repeated pauses in breathing while sleeping, they are likely suffering from sleep apnea. It is a very common breathing disorder, however, it can greatly impact one’s life in many ways.
What is Sleep Apnea?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep. This can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen. You may want to talk to your healthcare provider about sleep apnea if someone tells you that you snore or gasp during sleep, or if you experience other symptoms of poor-quality sleep, such as excessive daytime sleepiness.
Sleep apnea can be categorized into three different types:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The most common form, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway has been blocked, such as from tissue relaxing in the back of the throat.
- Central Sleep Apnea: When central sleep apnea (CSA) is present, the brain does not send the proper signals to the muscles responsible for breathing.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea: Mixed, or complex, sleep apnea involves a combination of both central and obstructive sleep apnea.
There are certain risk factors that can raise your likelihood of developing sleep apnea. These risk factors, also according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, include:
- Age: As you get older, normal changes in how your brain controls breathing during sleep may raise your risk of sleep apnea.
- Family history and genetics: Your genes can affect how your brain controls your breathing during sleep. Genetic conditions such as congenital central hypoventilation syndrome can raise your risk.
- Lifestyle habits: Drinking alcohol and smoking can affect how your brain controls sleep or the muscles involved in breathing.
- Opioid use: Opioid use disorder or long-term use of prescribed opioid-based pain medicines can cause problems with how your brain controls sleep.
- Health conditions: Some conditions that affect how your brain controls your airway and chest muscles can raise your risk. These include heart failure, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and myasthenia gravis. Also, your hormone levels can affect how your brain controls your breathing.
- Premature birth: Babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy have a higher risk of breathing problems during sleep. In most cases, the risk gets lower as the baby gets older.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
There are many symptoms of sleep apnea. You may experience some, all, or none at all. Many times, sleep apnea goes undiagnosed because the individual is unaware that they are suffering from it. That is why it is important to pay attention and take it seriously if your partner is alerting you to any of the following symptoms:
- Snoring. One of the most tell-tale signs of sleep apnea is loud snoring. This is a clear sign that there is an obstruction in the airway which is causing the loud mouth breathing.
- Gasping for air. If your partner tells you that you go through periods of not breathing, holding your breath, and gasping for air during sleep, these are all signs of sleep apnea.
- Issues with sleep. Insomnia, nightmares, or frequent awakenings to urinate are also symptoms of sleep apnea.
- Daytime drowsiness. Everyone feels tired every once in a while. However, if you are feeling excessively drowsy and fatigued every day, this could be because you are not receiving quality, restorative sleep at night due to sleep apnea. Fatigue can also lead to difficulty concentrating or paying attention at work or school.
- Weight gain. Individuals who are suffering from daytime drowsiness may not have the energy to exercise and eat healthily during the day, which can lead to weight gain. In addition, the lack of oxygen going through the body due to the episodes of paused breathing can cause weight gain.
- Mood swings. Depression and irritability are very good friends with sleep deprivation and fatigue. Experiencing frequent mood swings is a very common symptom of sleep apnea.
- Mouth and throat dryness. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea commonly experience a dry mouth, dry throat, or sore throat when they wake up in the morning due to excessive mouth breathing.
What to Do If You Suspect Sleep Apnea
If you suspect that you are suffering from sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. They may have you do a sleep study, which can help pinpoint the cause of your sleep apnea. This specific information will be very helpful to your sleep apnea doctor when it comes to forming a treatment protocol.
Dangers of Sleep Apnea
When your breathing pauses for more than ten seconds at a time while asleep (an event characteristic of sleep apnea), the “fight or flight” response in the Sympathetic Nervous System activates and releases stress hormones—such as cortisol—into the bloodstream. These elevated cortisol levels can result in:
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Cardiac Arrhythmia
- Increased Hunger Drive
- Other Health Hazards
Sleep apnea that goes untreated can lead to a wide range of issues. People living with the condition who do not receive prompt treatment are at a higher risk of experiencing the following:
- Loud Snoring
- Snorting or Gasping for Air
- Frequent Nighttime Urination
- Morning Headaches
- Daytime Sleepiness
- Memory Loss
- Lack of Energy
- Drowsy Driving
- Excessive Stress
- Cardiovascular Strain
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Increased Risk for Accidents
- Weight Gain
- High Blood Pressure
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
When sleep apnea is addressed with the proper treatment, risks associated with the condition are significantly reduced. Many individuals can live happier, healthier lives after addressing their sleep apnea issues and receiving the proper treatment for sleep apnea.
After the patient has received a sleep apnea diagnosis, our offices can help find the best possible treatment. Dr. Gorman will talk with them about their symptoms, review their medical history, and may perform a scan utilizing state-of-the-art dental technology to evaluate possible obstructions. Once he is familiar with the details of their condition, Dr. Gorman will create a personalized treatment plan with the goal of improving their nighttime breathing. This often involves the use of a custom-fitted dental appliance the patient will wear while sleeping.
If the patient’s sleep apnea is caused by the tongue relaxing in the throat, a tongue-retaining device may be the ideal treatment for maintaining an open airway. Should an abnormal jaw position be the cause of breathing difficulties, Dr. Gorman may recommend a special device to correct this alignment, such as a mouthpiece or a device strapped around the head. Oral devices used to address sleep apnea are removable and typically resemble athletic mouth guards.
What If Snoring is Left Untreated?
Making the decision to live with your snoring and not do anything about it can be very risky. This will leave you unsure of the cause of your snoring, which is very dangerous if the cause is sleep apnea. More issues that can stem from untreated snoring issues include:
- Poor mood
- Poor energy
- Memory and cognition issues
- Increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and dementia
- Relationship issues
- Respiratory disorders
- Poor performance at work or school
About Gorman Health and Wellness
You or your partner do not have to suffer from chronic snoring any longer. Treatment for sleep apnea doesn’t have to involve a clunky, loud, uncomfortable CPAP machine, either. Snoring and sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways, and we are here to help you find yours.
Dr. Gorman is a part of the breathing wellness movement, which aims to increase awareness and improve treatment for sleep-related airway conditions like sleep apnea. He has partnered with organizations focused on collaborating with dentists to apply the sciences of Craniofacial Epigenetics (the study of cranial modifications caused by gene expression as opposed to genetic code alteration) and Pneumopedics® (the practical application of oral appliance therapy and non-surgical airway remodeling) in the management of sleep apnea.
Together, the application of these sciences allows for underlying causes of airway obstruction to be treated in 98% of cases, resulting in a high success rate among sleep apnea patients. For every sleep apnea case at our practice, Dr. Gorman will gather patient data and determine the patient’s specific needs based on home sleep test results, dental impressions, CT scans, and images. Our state-of-the-art technology, paired with Dr. Gorman’s experience with sleep disorders, allows him to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual’s particular case, yielding improved daytime and nighttime breathing for the patient.
“I have been helping people suffering from Sleep Apnea with a non-invasive, clinically approved treatment method. This method has allowed my patients to sleep with far fewer events per hour allowing them to get rid of their CPAP and BiPAP machines. Imagine not having to use one of those machines, getting back a much greater quality of life along with the benefits of being able to breathe better.” – Dr. Gorman.
For more information on Dr. Gorman, sleep apnea treatment, and how to stop snoring as soon as possible, contact us today.