Causes and cures of sleep apnea and snoring

Do people complain that your snoring disturbs their sleep? You shouldn’t ignore your condition; it might be a symptom of sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where there are pauses in the breathing pattern of the sleeper, along with shallow infrequent breathing. It causes the sleeper to never achieve a deep restorative sleep, he/she only hovers in the light sleeping region. This causes daytime sluggishness, lack of concentration, headaches and reduced work performance. The affected person can also get into accidents if he/she drives or walks in a sluggish state.

What are the types of sleep apnea?

There are 3 kinds of sleep apnea – central, obstructive and a mixed kind. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the result of a physical blockage to the flow of air, which results in snoring. The back of your mouth and nose is the collapsible area where the tongue and upper throat come in contact with the palate and uvula – when there is a faulty airflow these structures vibrate on striking each other and cause the noise that we call snoring.

What are the causes of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea may be caused by a number of reasons. It is found that smokers tend to have sleep apnea three times more than those who never smoke. Alcohol, drugs, tranquilize, and sedatives tend to relax the throat muscles, thus promoting sleep apnea. Overweight and obese people having a large neck (more than 16-17 inches) tend to suffer from this condition. If you have a family history of sleep apnea, you are likely to suffer from it. Deviated septum, enlarged tongue or tonsils, sinus problems and allergies also may result in sleep apnea.

Can snoring be cured?

Yes, there are certain methods and snoring solutions that can cure snoring. Since most of the causes of it result from lifestyle decisions, it can be effectively controlled. You can change your lifestyle, and take some over-the-counter remedies to help you reduce your snoring problem.

Some methods to help you (and the people around you!) catch a good night’s sleep –

  1. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle – do not over-indulge in junk food and calorie-ridden drinks. Maintain a steady weight by eating in a balanced way. If you have an eating problem, consult a doctor before cutting down your food intake drastically. Ask for a proper diet chart and workout routine to help you lose the extra kilos.
  2. Do not be a couch potato! Get up and include some exercise in your daily routine. Wake up early in the morning and go for a brisk walk, not an idle stroll, for about half an hour. It will help your sleep considerably.
  3. Try not to consume alcohol or sedatives of any kind right before going to sleep, as they relax the throat muscles, which makes them collapse very easily.
  4. Sleep on your side, rather than your back, if you have a snoring problem. This is because when you are in a supine position, your chin, tongue and fatty tissues ease backwards blocking the path in your throat. There is an ingenious way of avoiding rolling back to sleeping on your back when you are asleep. Stitch a tennis ball on the back of your nightshirt! When you roll on to your back, the tennis ball will cause you discomfort, and you will automatically turn on your side in your sleep.
  5. Smoking has a lot of bad effects on your heath, so try and give up this habit. The smoke from the cigarettes irritates the nasal lining and may cause swelling leading to a congestion, which will obstruct the airflow. There are many support groups and help-lines available, if you decide to quit smoking.
  6. Keep you nasal passage clear. If you have allergies, take medications like antihistamine tablets or nasal spray – but you should always ask your doctor and not self-prescribe!
  7. OSA can also be treated by using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which gently blows air into your nose – the pressure from this air helps keep your airway unblocked. This treatment is known to provide relief to medium to severe OSA afflictions.