What is Snoring?
Snoring is the noisy pattern of breathing that is created due to the constriction of the throat and other airways. The throat muscles move and vibrate with every breath that goes in and out of the body. As the airway becomes narrower, the noise of the vibration becomes progressively louder - which is what snoring really is.
Causes of Snoring
Essentially an individual snores when there is something that obstructs the passage of air through the mouth and the nose. There are numerous causes that can lead to a completely or partially restricted air flow. Some of them are outlined below:
- Weight – our weight plays the biggest role in our ability to breathe properly. Obese people generally have poor muscle tone and an accumulation of excess fats in the throat muscles. The bulky throat muscle tissue restricts the flow of air leading to snoring
- Physically Obstructed Nasal Passages – Nasal polyps or tissue overgrowths, deviated septums, allergies, or even sinus infections can restrict the air pathway.
- Sleeping Positions – The way we sleep also greatly influences snoring. Sleeping on the back increases the chances of snoring because our muscles at the back of our throat tend to fall back creating an obstruction of the airway.
- Lifestyle Habits – Anything that causes increased relaxation, loss of tone, or inflammation of the throat muscles can cause snoring. So when you overindulge in alcohol, or smoke, you are far likely to snore. What’s more, certain medications such as muscle relaxants or sleeping pills can also cause snoring. Our increasing age also influences snoring because there is a natural loss of muscle tone as we grow older.
Health Risks Associated with Snoring
Continuous unchecked snoring can create more problems for you than just irritating your partner – it can genuinely adversely affect you health. Some of the health risks associated with snoring includes:
- Low blood oxygen levels – the air we breathe provides oxygen to our body. If we breathe improperly or do not get adequate amounts of air, the blood oxygen levels fall. Eventually it can lead to a condition known as pulmonary hypertension.
- Continuous Headaches – low levels of oxygen in the blood can cause chronic headaches in snorers due to the imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body.
- Interrupted sleep- Obstructed pathways of air can lead to sleep apnea where you stop breathing intermittently. This causes continuous interruption in our sleeping patterns resulting in us walking multiple times at night.
- Lethargy and Daytime sleepiness – If your sleep is continually interrupted at night due to snores or sleep apnea, it can create a sleep deficit overtime which results in you feeling drowsy, lethargic and sleepy during the day. Not only does it affect your performance and overall productivity, a chronic lack of sleep can cause you to become a liability to yourself, possibly causing unwanted injury to self.
- Arrhythmias and Related Heart Issues – A continuous lack of adequate amounts of oxygen in the blood can put an unnecessary strain on the heart muscle which is not getting the oxygen it requires. It can cause cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, heart enlargement, stroke and even heart attacks.
Other common conditions associated with snoring include GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Nocturia, anxiety, depression, fetal complications in pregnant women, as well as a lack of libido and sexual satisfaction.
In case snoring is a problem for you or your loved one, it’s advisable that you visit your primary care physician to rule out the possibility of an underlying health concern. To set up an appointment at Health One Family Medicine with Dr. Shalin Parikh, please call 469-262-5762. For more information, please visit www.healthonemedicine.com.