What causes snoring?Anatomically, upper airway executes breathing by a synchronous process between mouth, nose and throat with associated muscles and nerves activity accordingly. This is to maintain airway lumen or passage for unobstructed airflow. Normally this is a quiet process till an obstruction occurs. While sleeping under situation of narrowed airway lumen causes turbulence of airflow and vibration of structures around generating a loud sound which we call as ‘Snoring’.
Causes of reduction in upper airway lumen
- Local structures like tongue, uvula, soft palate, misplaced dentures may occlude airway.
- Changes in local structures nasal mucosa swelling due to common cold, nasal polyps and growth or mass in throat like adenoids etc .Any growth fron mouth, nose, throat projecting into airway reduces lumen space hence occluding it.
- Deposition of fat in soft tissue and muscle around airway decreases lumen spaces. As seen in obesity. Sometimes tight clothing around neck may too can be a reason!
- Decrease in muscle tone and fatigue under influence of alcohol, sedatives, smoking also ageing lead to failure on part of muscle function to maintain lumen during air flow.
Snoring alarmsYes, habitual or regular snoring can be an indication of severe ongoing health condition or may increase probability of severe health conditions in future and warrants proper management. At times partial occlusion of airway may turn into complete causing apnea leading to decreased oxygen and increased carbon dioxide in body, person may wake up choking or gasping. Overtime sudden apnea may increase in frequency and duration leading to:
- Issues related to heart functioning.
- Frequent awakening, restless sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue and decrease in physical and mental performance.
Snoring managementBe relaxed friends hopefully most of the factors responsible for snoring are preventable and need focused effort on part of snorers and partners:
- Even moderate weight reductions may surprise you with results. So start enjoying physical activities like exercise, walking, swimming, sports and may be dance with upset partner!
- Trying to avoid flat sleeping postures i.e supine. Sleeping sideways is important but one need frequent awareness on part of partners as well because in sleep one might not be aware of it.
- Start decreasing alcohol intake particularly evening drinks and cessation of smoking.
- For my elderly friends, for whom physical work might not be possible, don’t worry regular yoga and breathing exercise works well.
Dr. Shweta Kumar (MBBS, PGDFM) is a General and Family physician work as a health consultant in IT companies and a self-practitioner. She believes in health management through holistic, spiritual, psychological approach and self-awareness.