Last Updated: 5th October 2016
How often do you find your partner telling you that you work him or her up again with your snoring?
For some, it just happens when they have a cold or a blocked nose. Others will find that it happens on a regular basis.
Snoring happens for all sorts of reasons, and could be linked to other health problems.
The good news is it’s not something your partner is going to have to learn to deal with; nor do you have to sleep in separate rooms to be able to get a decent night’s sleep. With this complete guide, you can stop snoring and get a great night’s sleep.
Is Your Snoring Waking You Up?
How often do you wake up after hearing a loud noise? It sounds like snoring, but nobody else in the room is making the noise; it was you after all.
Bad snoring doesn’t just wake others up, but it can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Even if it doesn’t wake you up, you get a poor night’s sleep because your body fails to get all the oxygen it needs.
The first thing to do is understand why you snore. Snoring occurs when the air can’t move through the throat and nose freely during sleep.
The air makes the tissues around these areas vibrate, and sound occurs. When the tissue is floppy, it vibrates more, and this makes the sound much louder than normal.
Of course, a blocked nose can cause the issue of the air not being able to move through the nose and throat properly.
It is a temporary problem and something that is resolved after a few days.
Some people just have this issue on a daily basis, and it can be debilitating for everyone in the house.
Image Source: The Ravent Snoring
Before you can even think about ways to stop snoring, you need to work out why you’re doing it.
There’s not just one reason people around the world snore, and some people may have multiple reasons for the vibration in the throat and nose.
While you may not find all the reasons, finding some could limit the amount of snoring that occurs during the night to make it easier for you.
When you carry excess weight in your body, it is usually everywhere and even internal.
This means your nose and throat end up with fatty tissue blocking the pathway for the air.
Some people are just more prone to snoring than others because of their build. For example, the passages in men are much smaller than those in women. This can mean men are more likely to snore because it is harder for the air to get through.
Other physical problems can cause snoring to occur, including enlarged adenoids and cleft palates.
There’s not something you can do to cure completely some of the issues because they are hereditary, but there are things you can do to lessen the symptoms.
If you’re on medication, or you smoke or drink, you could find that snoring is more of an issue. These three factors all lead to muscles in the body relaxing. As the muscles relax, they are more likely to vibrate when the air passes through.
Diazepam and lorazepam are the most two common types of medication that can cause the muscles to relax and snore to become an issue.
Your age will also cause an issue for snoring as when you get older; your throat becomes narrower. This is why your voice becomes deeper over the years, but it can also mean the passages aren’t clear enough for the air to pass through.
There’s not much you can do about aging, but you can help to prevent snoring becoming a major issue over the years. It’s all about working on your lifestyle and changing your bedtime routines to help ease the air passing through.
Your sleep position will have a lot to do with your snoring. When you sleep on your back, your tongue relaxes to the back of your throat, causing the airways to become blocked. It is why some people say that the noise is worse when people lay on their backs, but can make their partners stop snoring when they lie on their sides or fronts.
Figuring out why you snore will involve looking at all of these common reasons. It could also be worth asking your partner to give you more details about your snoring.
Do you do it when your mouth is open (indicating that you breathe through your mouth, and there is an issue with the tissues in your throat) or when it is closed (indicating an issue with your tongue)? Is this a problem just when you sleep in one position or all?
It is very important to discuss this as not only will it help you get to the bottom of your snoring, but also tell you just how bad it is.
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Sleep apnoea and snoring sound very similar but are two very different problems.
Sleep apnoea can be extremely dangerous, and will need medical attention. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night because of your snoring, it could be that apnoea is really the issue.
It occurs when the nose and throat are obstructed. The body wakes itself up so you can breathe again. If you do suffer from extreme fatigue during the day, it is possible that it is sleep apnoea more than snoring. (Make sure to see your doctor if sleep apnoea is affecting you).
The good news is you can do something about this, too. More on that to come!
First of all, it’s worth concentrating on how to prevent and cure snoring. You want to keep your weight under control, which means looking at your diet.
Just a few kilograms overweight could lead to issues with snoring because there are more fatty tissues in the nose and throat.
More tissue means more chance of blockage and that leads to more vibration.
The best thing you can do is change your diet as soon as possible. You need to create a calorie deficit, so your body uses the stored calories and reduces your levels of body fat.
There are lots of healthy eating plans and diets out there. Try to avoid crash dieting and focus on something long term and sustainable.
The last thing you want to do is put all the weight back on in the long term.
A healthy diet can also help boost your immune system.This means you’re less likely to suffer from colds and the flu, so your nose remains unblocked.
Those annoying nights where you just need sleep but can’t get it become a thing of the past.
Exercise can also help to deal with snoring due to being overweight. You’ll find that you lose weight sooner, and you can tone up the muscles around your neck, which could help with the tissues in the throat.
By toning the muscles, there is less chance of the vibration becoming an issue.
Deal With the Allergies
A blocked nose isn’t just a symptom of a cold. It could be the symptom of an allergy. You want to keep your nasal passages as clear as possible at all times.
When you are dealing with allergies, it is worth finding out the reason for them. If you can, remove whatever it is from your home that is causing the allergies.
Realistically, this is not always a possibility, and while you may be allergic to a family pet, you don’t necessarily want to give it away. So, you need to find another way of handling that allergy. You may not even be able to figure out what is causing the allergy at all!
Your doctor will be the first port of call. There is the possibility of getting medication to help reduce or clear up all symptoms of your allergies.
]Your doctor will also be able to run tests to find out what you could be allergic to, so you know what you need to remove from your home.
While you wait, on a night it could be worth lying, so you are upright. This can help to limit the amount of blockage that occurs throughout the night so that you can limit your snoring.
Before you go to bed, you can limit the symptoms for the time being. Rinsing your nose out with fluid to get rid of the blockage is one option. This is great if you do have a cold and a build-up of fluid in your sinuses.
If you don’t like the idea of putting water up your nostrils (it’s not the most comfortable option), you could use a nasal decongestant just before you go to bed.
A humidifier in your bedroom could also help to improve the air quality, remove dust mites and pet dander, so your allergies become less of an issue.
There are different types of humidifiers, so you don’t need to worry about the sound throughout the night.
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You may be fed up of hearing how much smoking affects your health. It does seem to be everywhere, but if you are a smoker and a snorer, there is no time like the present to quit.
Not only will you do your overall health some good, but you will also reduce the amount you snore. Of course, that can then offer other health benefits.
Smoking irritates the tissues in the throat and nose.
They can become so irritated that they inflame, and then you have to deal with more vibration around the nose and throat. This irritation will go away with time when you quit smoking.
There is a lot of help to quit smoking. Not only will you get a better night’s sleep but you’ll also give your overall health a better chance.
Change Your Sleeping Position
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This has already been mentioned in passing, but it deserves a full section. Sleeping on your back is more likely to lead to snoring.
Your tongue relaxes and is more likely to touch the back of the mouth, blocking the airway. When this happens, the air struggles to pass through and will vibrate off the throat and tongue.
Sleeping on your side or front will help to prevent this from happening. If you still snore, it indicates that there is a more serious problem, and you will need to discuss this with your doctor.
How do you stop yourself from rolling on your back?
Chances are you won’t want to stay asleep on one side the whole night, and you may not even realise that you are snoring.
It’s all about making it uncomfortable to sleep on your back. Some experts suggest taping some tennis balls onto your back.
Whenever you roll onto it, you’ll feel the tennis balls stick into your back and then you’ll wake up!
You won’t need to keep the tennis balls there forever. Over time, sleeping on your side will become a habit, and you’ll find that rolling onto your back wakes you up anyway.
Build Up Your Throat Muscles
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This is more than just exercising to lose weight. Remember that it’s all about fatty tissue and flabby muscles in your throat and nose.
The best thing you can do is target them directly to minimise them and strengthen the throat muscles.
Focusing on exercises that will do these is something that you can do right now. There’s no need to join a gym, and anyone can do them!
You can do these activities while you do the housework or when you find yourself awake in the middle of the night because of your snoring. Start by repeating the vowels out loud for a few minutes on a daily basis.
This may be something you want to do when you’re alone in the house if you’re worried about what others will think of you. Just remember that it really is good for you.
Next, move onto using the tongue and touching just at the top of your front teeth and then slide to the back of your mouth along the roof. Slide it back to your teeth and repeat for a few minutes on a daily basis.
At first, this will be harder, and you may find your jaw feels tired. It is simply your muscles getting to work in a way that they haven’t done in the past.
Now open your mouth and move your bottom jaw to the right. Hold it there for 30 seconds and then move it to the left.
Repeat this three to five times to start with and then build up the repetitions. Once 30 seconds becomes easy, you may want to build up the time in 15-second intervals until you’re holding it in place for a minute.
Again, with your mouth open, you can contract the muscle right at the back of the throat. You may need a mirror to help with this while you get used to the feeling.
The idea is that your uvula—that bit that hangs down in the middle of your throat—will move up as the walls move inwards.
When it is relaxed, the ball will hand down. Hold the position with the uvula hanging up for 30 seconds and rest for another 30 seconds. Repeat at least five times.
Try an Anti-Snoring Device
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There are plenty of anti-snoring devices, from pillows to physical devices that you put in your mouth.
They also come in different price ranges, with some requiring dental professionals to create something specifically for you.
These can be exceptionally helpful if you find yourself snoring in all positions or find that it is sleep apnea more than actual snoring.
Nasal strips are the most common device to try first. The benefit is that they are low cost and are often not invasive or even felt by the wearer. We recommend this nasal strips for congestion relief as the best product on the market.
This is only beneficial if the snoring comes from the nose. It will do nothing when you snore through your mouth.
The same applies to nasal dilators, which can help to reduce the blockage from sinus inflammation or irritation. This is why it is so important to talk to your partner to find out what he or she witnesses while you are snoring.
Strips are the most common and available over the counter. They look just like plasters, so are convenient for trying quickly and for a few nights or weeks for any benefit. Before you go to bed, just pop the strip on over your nose, and you should see that you snore less.
During the night, the strips will keep your nostrils apart. This can help to prevent blockages occurring as the airways narrow during your sleep, whether you snore when on your back only or when you lay on your side. You then just need to remove it the next morning and discard, so you use a fresh one each night.
The nasal dilator works a little differently and can be uncomfortable for some. It is a metal or plastic device that looks very similar to a nose ring. It sits on your nose, pushing your nostrils apart.
The idea is that they are supposed to be comfortable and not intrude while you get a peaceful night’s sleep, but some people prefer the annoyance of snoring.
Most nasal devices will depend on personal preference. There has been very little research into the effectiveness and usefulness of any of the devices. It’s worth looking online at reviews to see what other people say and whether it cured their snoring.
This could help you save money rather than going the trial and error route; especially when it comes to the nasal dilators.
If you snore through your mouth, there are high chances that the nasal devices won’t work. Instead, you need something that helps to prevent the vibration on the tissues in the throat.
An oral device like a vestibular shield or chin strap could be something you consider. Both of these types of devices can be intrusive and uncomfortable, especially before you get used to them.
The chin strap is placed under your chin and keeps your mouth closed during the night. Without your mouth falling open through the night, you could find that the air doesn’t hit the back of your throat as much.
However, there is the downside of struggling to breathe if you have a problem with both your nose and mouth or if you have a cold or blocked nose!
The vestibular could also become an issue because it blocks the airflow into your mouth. You’re forced to breathe through your nose, by a plastic device that looks very much like a gum shield.
Like the nasal options, little research has been carried out to test the effectiveness on snoring. You will need to look at third-party reviews and try them out yourself to see if they can help reduce your snoring. It’s also important to consider whether your snoring is an issue due to your mouth or your tongue.
A mandibular advancement device, commonly referred to as the MAD device, is an option if you struggle with the air vibrating on the base of the tongue. While this can be a more expensive, it can be more effective than other options.
An initial look at the MAD device makes many people think of a vestibular shield. It does look like a gum shield but works a little differently. Rather than blocking the airflow, it pushes the tongue and jaw forward to increase the space towards the back of your throat, encouraging the air to pass throughout without an issue. If you suffer from blocked nasal passages on a regular basis, this could be a more comfortable and safer option. As well as encouraging air to travel through, it also stops the air from vibrating on the tongue.
In most cases, you can get the MAD over the counter. It doesn’t help with snoring that has caused breathing difficulties, but a cheaper device will cure the majority of simple snoring reasons.
The downside is if you suffer from sleep apnoea. While the MAD isn’t out of the question, you will need to find one that is suitable for your condition.
The best thing to do is have one made specifically for you by an orthodontist. Impressions of your teeth and jaw will be taken to make sure it will help your snoring problem.
The downside of the custom-made MAD device is the cost. It can cost several thousand dollars, depending on materials being used. It only lasts 18 months and will need to be replaced.
This could be a deal-breaker for some because it is unaffordable. The question is whether quality sleep is worth the extra cost.
What About Using Medication?
There are times that medication can help with reducing or preventing snoring. However, the medication cannot directly treat the symptoms. The aim is to help the reasons for snoring to occur.
It is very important that you figure out why you are snoring before you even consider taking anything.
If you suffer from nasal irritation and swelling, nasal sprays can be beneficial. It is important to look for an antihistamine spray to relieve the symptoms of allergies.
Antihistamines do have proven abilities to help treat allergic reactions, and those who suffer snoring due to this have found benefits.
A blocked nose is annoying during the day, let alone during the night. It can cause all sorts of sleep problems, for you and your partner.
The best thing to do is try to treat the congestion, and you can do that through the use of nasal decongestants. If you find your congestion lasts for more than seven days, you should stop using the medication and speak to your doctor.
Continually using the medication can make your congestion worse.
When your reason is not linked to allergies, nasal irritation or congestion, you may need to speak to your doctor. He or she may be able to provide medication to treat the reason for your snoring.
Could Surgery Ever Be a Necessity?
In the most extreme cases, your snoring may only be cured by surgery. This may work out to be the cheapest option if you are struggling with life-threatening underlying causes.
Doctors will recommend this if you have tried all other options without any success and when you’re snoring has started having adverse effects on your overall health and life quality.
As with any problem, surgery is often the last resort. You want to give the other options a real go because surgery carries risks. It also won’t help with all reasons for snoring, so you may find that you need to rely on a non-intrusive option anyway.
If you do have sleep apnoea, you won’t have surgery recommended to you for various reasons. There are other devices to help you breathe and overcome this problem. You can also treat the problem, rather than solve it through something so invasive.
The type of surgery will depend on the reason for your snoring. You may find that treatment of a medical problem will stop the symptom of snoring, such as having enlarged tonsils removed to help improve airflow. However, when this is not an option, you will usually have one of four surgeries to treat your snoring. These are:
- Soft palate radiofrequency ablation
- Palate implants
If the soft tissue in your mouth is the reason for your snoring, your doctor may recommend uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP).
The only time they won’t recommend this for definite is when your tongue is the soft tissue causing it. The uvula is removed during this process, along with some of the soft palate and excess tissue around your throat and in your mouth.
Tonsils and adenoids may also be removed if they cause problems with air vibration.
You will be placed under general anaesthetic for this procedure, so it will likely mean a stay in the hospital.
There may be pain and discomfort for days and maybe weeks afterwards, and pronouncing some sounds in the future can be difficult.
While you won’t find the English language any harder to use, using, other languages can be harder because you may find pronouncing consonants harder.
The good news is 50% of patients find their snoring is completely cured after this procedure. There are complications, but only about 1% of cases will find serious ones occurring.
Uvulopalatoplasty (UP) is performed through laser assistance. It does carry a lower risk compared to UPPP but can still mean pain and discomfort for weeks after. There is also research to show that it may not be as effective as opting for the first treatment.
Like UPPP, the surgery involves the removal of the soft tissue, uvula, and other elements. It is all done with laser or radio waves to burn them off, rather than using other extraction techniques. All is done under general aesthetic, but it can be much quicker and safer.
Soft palate implants are one consideration for those who snore without breathing difficulties. A doctor will need to check that the snoring is caused by air on the soft palate, rather than other parts of the throat or in the nose. The good news about this one is that it is all done under local anaesthetic, so it is a shorter procedure, but you will be awake for it.
The injection is placed on the roof of the mouth to numb the area, and then synthetic material creates implants to inject into the areas of the palate to help stiffen it.
The palate should not vibrate after this. There are no safety concerns, but experts do state that there is limited evidence on the long-term effectiveness of this surgery.
The fourth option, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), is an alternative to the implants mentioned above. It will treat most vibration problems, and stiffens the soft palate. The benefit of this is that it does not mean an overnight stay in the hospital.
This treatment takes place through local anaesthetic to numb the roof of the mouth so that an electrode can be implanted within the soft palate. This then allowed radio waves to pass through the palate, shrinking and hardening the tissue, so it will not vibrate as much while you sleep.
Research has shown that it does help to improve snoring and obstruction in the upper airway, and patients and partners see a better quality of life afterwards. The evidence of it being beneficial in the long-term is still being undertaken.
What About Sleep Apnea?
Image Source: Home Sleep Test
After all this about snoring, there is a chance that you suffer from sleep apnoea. This can lead to sounds of snoring, but it is a deeper problem. The snoring is just a side effect of a health problem that could be life threatening.
In short, sleep apnoea is when an obstruction occurs, and you struggle to breathe.
In some cases, your body has to wake you physically up so that you take the much-needed breaths of air. However, before you seek treatment, there are two different types of sleep apnoea: normal apnoea and hypopnoea.
Apnoea is when the soft tissues and muscles in the throat relax. This leads to them collapsing and blocking the airway. The airway can be blocked for 10 seconds or more to be classed as this.
In hypopnoea, the airways are only partially blocked; usually, at least, 50% blocked. This occurs for at least 10 seconds and will lead to a reduction of airflow in your body. Some people can suffer from both types throughout the night.
One of the rarer forms of sleep apnoea does not involve blockages. The brain stops telling the body to breathe while sleeping. This is known as central sleep apnoea and needs medical advice to help stop it occurring.
In most cases, sleep apnoea will not just happen the once during the night. It can happen time and time again, leading you to wake up on a regular basis. Many people put this down to poor sleep and suffer the consequences the next day, but there could be something bigger at play.
Severe cases can see people suffering from bouts every few minutes. In some cases, you may not completely wake up.
Your brain pulls you from your deep sleep into a lighter state, so that you have more control over your natural functions.
Could You Suffer from Sleep Apnoea?
It is time to look at your snoring and work out whether it could be sleep apnoea instead. The main complaint from people is not the noise through the night but the feeling of sleepiness throughout the day.
Symptoms include restlessness and irritability. Despite being asleep for the recommended six to eight hours, you may have felt like you only got an hour or two’s sleep; and this could have certainly been the case.
The excessive sleepiness can also lead to forgetfulness and other mood changes. Depression and anxiety are common complaints because the brain struggles to function on such little sleep. A short temper is also common, as people struggle to deal with the tiredness they feel. Just think of what it is like to be tired because you genuinely got little sleep and then consider the affect your potential sleep apnoea could have on you.
It is the partners who will notice other symptoms as they are usually the ones to hear the snoring. The snoring is often loud but not continuous. Usually, sufferers will gasp or pause in a breath as their airways become blocked.
Not everyone will suffer from all the symptoms. Another issue is that the symptoms are common ones for anyone, not just those who do have sleep apnoea.
You may not get a good night’s sleep for another reason and feed tired, or have stayed up late to finish work. Mood swings and irritability affects everyone now and then, and you may just genuinely snore!
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Sleep apnoea affects anyone. It doesn’t matter what your age, sex or race is. However, there are people more prone to suffering from sleep apnoea than others.
Weight is an issue because the fatty tissues can end up blocking airways. That is why those who are overweight are more at risk of developing the condition. More specifically, overweight men over 40 are likely to suffer from sleep apnoea.
If you have a neck size of more than 17 issues or enlarged tonsils, you may find yourself more at risk. This is simply due to the blockage that can happen.
Small jaw bones and those who suffer from acid reflux often find that they are diagnosed with sleep apnoea rather than just snoring. You could also have it if you have sinus problems and allergies, but you can usually reduce the risk by treating your allergies and finding out the reasons for your sinus problems.
This is also one of those ailments that can be hereditary. If you have a family member suffering from it, especially a parent or sibling, it is worth mentioning this to your doctor. It could help to speed up the process of your diagnosis.
The type of apnoea will also affect the risk factors. While central sleep apnoea is a rarer version, it is more common in men over the age of 65. It is also linked to those who have had heart disorders, strokes or brain tumours.
This is due to the way the brain waves are affected because of these conditions and health problems. Brain tumours are the most common reasons for central sleep apnoea to become an issue. The tumour can stop the brain from regulating the breathing properly.
Those who smoke, drink alcohol and take some medications are also more at risk. The muscles in the throat are more likely to relax, especially if taking tranquilizers and sedatives, and the throat can become irritated and swollen through the use of alcohol and smoking.
How Is Sleep Apnoea Diagnosed?
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Now it comes to the diagnosing of sleep apnoea. Since this is a condition when you sleep, it is very different for a doctor to give instantly you a diagnosis. They need to be able to hear your snoring while considering all your symptoms. They will also want to find out how severe your apnoea is. While it could be life threatening, it is minimal in some patients; and this can make getting a diagnosis much harder.
Your doctor will want to check your apnoea/hypopnoea index (AHI). This tells the professionals the number of times the apnoea occurs and the number of times you suffer from hypopnoea during an hour of sleep.
Those who suffer from less than 10 AHIs will usually find that their issue is not a clinical issue. That doesn’t mean there isn’t treatment available but that it is not too severe to worry about it.
A sleep study is essential. This means a night trip to the hospital, so your sleep can be monitored by a professional. Even if your partner is a health professional, he or she will not be able to diagnose you right away. The sleep study is still essential because it will involve various tests.
It won’t be the best night’s sleep for obvious reasons, but will be something to help you get your diagnoses and start treatment. With the results, the professional can determine the best type of treatment for your condition.
During your sleep study, you will find numerous elements are monitored. Your brain waves will be checked with an electroencephalograph, and you will need to have an electromyography taken to check your muscle toning.
Chest and abdomen movements will be tested, and your airflow between your nose and mouth will be recorded. The professionals will also want to monitor the levels of oxygen in your blood, your heart rate, and your overall heart health.
Finally, sound and video recording will be undertaken.
While you may have already done this, it will have been for a short period and without the extra tests. The sound testing will be matched with other tests to see just how severe your apnoea is and whether you need instant, aggressive treatment to help.
You will be right to assume that this is an expensive study. The problem is it is important if you want to get a full diagnosis and treatment.
It’s worth finding out whether you will need the study and then saving up over time before it. You may also find that payment plans are available.
What About a Home Sleep Study?
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Because of the cost of the sleep studies, home sleep studies are becoming much more popular. You will need a partner who is willing to help you with this study, but it may not be the most accurate option.
Paying for a full night in the hospital to run the tests is often the preferred route by the professionals.
The studies are done through private companies, and not all professionals may accept the results.
There may still be a request to go for a hospital test to check all the results and determine the best cause of action. This is something you will want to discuss with your doctor before you opt for buying the equipment to do a home study.
The Initial Treatment Option for Sleep Apnea
Whatever type of sleep apnoea you are diagnosed with, the initial treatment is usually behavioural therapy. This is the cheapest option available and can help some of the most common reasons for apnoea to occur. For example, making a change in your alcohol levels and smoking can really help to reduce your risk factor and get rid of the problem completely.
You may find that your doctor recommends avoiding the sedatives. This will depend on the reason for taking these sedatives, but it could be worth trying; even if it is that last one before you sleep. You can reduce the risk of your airways collapsing through the night, without expensive and sometimes uncomfortable machines.
Like snoring, the sleep apnoea could occur due to your sleeping position. This will be something a hospital sleep study can determine—as they get to see how you sleep—and they can recommend options to help improve your airway size.
Sleeping on your back is the most common reason for the airways to collapse and narrow, so you may be recommended to sleep on your side. If you think this could be a problem, try some of the methods mentioned above to help reduce the chances of rolling over.
If you opt for some of the treatment options below, sleeping on your side may be more comfortable anyway. It can also help to reduce the sound of your snoring, which will mean your partner gets a better night’s sleep, too.
Treating Sleep Apnoea with Weight Loss
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Sometimes, the sleep apnoea is caused by excessive weight. This is a common issue because the excess weight leads to fattier tissues in the throat, like with snoring. The difference here is that the tissues block the airways completely and can force your body to wake you up.
One of the best things you can do is stick to a healthy and balanced diet. Make sure you take in fewer calories than you eat, so your body gets excess calories from the fat that has been stored. Adding some exercise into your life can also help, whether you do overall physical exercise or work on the muscles in your throat through the exercises already mentioned above.
While it may seem like a crash diet is the best option to help protect your health, it could have the opposite effect. You still want to be healthy overall, and this means following a healthy plan.
Using A Mandibular Advancement Device
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The MAD, already mentioned above, can be another option for minor sleep apnoea. The benefit is that the tongue and jaw are held forward, so the airway is not as likely to become blocked.
This will not be something that suits everyone, and it’s worth finding out more about these devices from the section above.
If you have uneven/dentures, tempro-mandibular or gum disease, these devices may not be effective for you. They can also be uncomfortable for some to get to sleep.
For most minor cases, these devices have been found to be useful for most needs. They can also work with weight loss, and make a cheaper long-term option for curing your sleep apnoea.
CPAP Machines for Severe Sleep Apnea
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One of the most commonly recommended devices when it comes to severe cases is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. If you have also already tried other methods recommended to you, this could be the final option available. The majority of patients find that it is successful to cure sleep apnoea.
There are different types of CPAP machines available, whether you need a fixed pressure or an automatic one. More on the differences between them below.
Some of the machines can make loud noises, and it will depend on the brand. There are quiet options, meaning there is no need to get separate bedrooms. In most cases, the machines will work at between 26 and 30 decibels, which is about the sound of an average bedroom during the night anyway.
Your partner will hardly notice the difference, especially with your snoring coming to an end! Eventually, the sound just becomes normal, like general breathing sounds.
You will need a doctor’s letter in support of one of these machines first. They can also be expensive, so that is something to consider before you buy.
Automatic vs. Fixed Pressure CPAP Machines
If you’ve decided that one of these machines is worthwhile, you will want to know which one to buy. As mentioned, you usually have two options: automatic or fixed pressure. Both have their pros and cons, which you will need to consider before you purchase anything.
Fixed pressure machines will have the pressure set before you go to sleep. It will remain at this level throughout the night, blowing the air at all times.
This can mean you don’t get enough air and could still find yourself waking if you have not set the machine to the right level in the first place. The upside is that they tend to be cheaper options because they don’t need as much to make.
The upside of fixed pressure ones is that you will always set it at the maximum pressure you could need during the night. This will then mean that you always make sure you get the right level of air throughout.
With automatic ones, there is the chance that the machine can misjudge your snoring and airflow and not quite get the pressure to the level you need.
Automatic options are just like automatic cars: they do the work for you. The pressure is set at first, but can change automatically throughout the night; tailored specifically for your airflow needs.
The systems sense your type of apnoea and the sound of your snoring throughout the night. If it believes you need more air, it will dial up the pressure. Once it decides you no longer need all that, it will dial the pressure back down, slowly?
You are less likely to wake up during the night when you use an automatic CPAP machine. This can be worth the cost if your sleep apnoea is that severe. Your partner is also less likely to be woken by the sound of your snoring. When the machine senses that you are snoring and not getting in enough air, it will work on improving the pressure before your snoring can get worse.
CPAPs work through batteries in many cases.
They are rechargeable, to make sure you never run out throughout the night. In some cases, you can also connect to the mains, which ensures there are no issues during the night. If you are travelling, you can get caravan and car cigarette lighter adapters for your CPAP needs.
Other Options to Help Your Sleep Apnoea and Snoring
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Some devices can help snorers and those suffering from sleep apnoea. A humidifier is one of the best options, and can be used with various devices.
To start with, a humidifier adds moisture and warmth to air, reducing the dryness that can be felt in the nose and throat.
Dryness can often lead to irritation and more vibration when breathing, so your snoring can seem louder. You will feel more comfortable throughout the night, regardless of what other treatments you are using.
Humidifiers help the natural air, which means they can be used with other devices. They are highly recommended for those who choose CPAP devices to treat their sleep apnoea, and can also be useful for those who have allergies that have caused their snoring. In many cases, the humidifiers can get rid of dust mites in the room.
However, you will need to make sure the moisture does not lead to mould growth in areas, which could lead to other health problems. They shouldn’t, but it will depend on the airflow in your room!
Getting Regularly Assessed
The good news about sleep apnoea is that you may be able to overcome it. Even with a CPAP machine, you can work on losing weight, and this can help reduce your health problem.
This does mean that you will need to be regularly assessed for your sleep apnoea. Professionals will want to know whether you are still on the best type of treatment, whether you still need treatment at all or whether it is getting worse for any reason.
Regular assessments will be done through the in-hospital studies. They will want to check your overall heart and blood oxygen health to see if there are other detrimental side effects from your sleep apnoea.
This can mean an extra expense, but with planning, you can save up for this. You can also invest in a home kit to keep monitoring your sleep apnoea.
Surgery to Treat Your Sleep Apnea
As apnoea is due to a blockage in most cases, surgery could be the final option for many patients. The problem is that this means overnight stays in hospitals, longer recovery times and pain, and could lead to other health risks. You will want to and be encouraged to try the other treatment options before jumping to surgery treatment for sleep apnoea. This is often the final option if CPAP machines turn out to not work enough.
There are different types of surgery available because it really will depend on the reason for your sleep apnoea to occur. It depends on whether your blockage is nasal, throat or mouth related.
A septoplasty or turbinate surgery can be the options if the blockages are in the nasal passages. They will improve the airways, so the air passes without an issue throughout the night. This can also help just snoring problems, as it can mean the air is less likely to vibrate on the tissues.
Surgery options already mentioned above for snoring are other options for sleep apnoea, especially UPPP. This is when the blockage occurs within the mouth, such as when the tonsils or adenoids are causing the problem.
A minimally invasive option of this is the Pillar Procedure, where 3 to 6 pillars are placed within the soft palate to keep it solid. It is done with local anaesthetic, meaning a shorter stay in hospital in many cases. Three is the initial number of pillars that will be considered, but more may be used if your specialist believes them to be more beneficial.
As well as being less invasive, the surgery is also less painful than other options out there. In most cases, it takes just 30 minutes to carry out the procedure and then patients are out within the day.
Another benefit of the pillar insertion is that it can be done while other surgery options are taking place. In some cases, sleep apnoea is caused by blockages in the nose and the throat or due to an enlarged tongue as well as problems with the soft palate. Combining all the treatments makes them more successful in the long run.
What about when the blockage is due to an enlarged tongue? This can depend on where the enlargement is and the full problem that is occurring because of it. One of the most common issues is when the base of the tongue is enlarged, and this means tongue suspension or hyoid suspension is a requirement.
Sometimes, surgery can be used to shrink the tongue or stiffen any of the excess tissue around the throat, mouth, and tongue. Many of these treatments are done in a hospital or at a doctor’s office and tend to be short, minimally invasive surgical options.
Of course, there are risks with any type of surgery.This is something you must consider before you opt for it. One of those that is the most common is a reaction to the sedative used. The sedatives often remain in the body for some time afterwards, and could mean life-threatening problems. When mixed with sleep apnoea, the sedatives can create more breathing irregularities and may lead to the airways collapsing at a more dangerous level. This is one of the reasons why doctors will want to avoid surgery where possible, especially those that involve general anaesthetic.
Another major issue is the postoperative swelling, which is common with any type of surgery. When it comes to throat and mouth surgery, this means swelling around the airways and mouth lining and could lead to temporary issues of the airways still being blocked. It means that patients will see the limited benefit at first, but this will be improved once the swelling goes down.
Before opting for surgery, it is essential that you consider all the risks and talk to your doctor. There are times that you can benefit from the non-surgical methods, and there may be some medications that you can take instead, or stop taking! Look at all your options and make the best decision for your health needs.
In short, snoring could be the symptom of a bigger problem or it could be due to a minor issue that you can fix with behavioural therapy. Whether you have woken up from the sound or your partner has told you that your snoring has just gotten too much, it is important to look at all the reasons for snoring to occur.
There are plenty of non-surgical options available, and a change of sleeping position could do you wonders. Consider these before you put yourself at risk of other health complications.
Weight loss is one of the most effective methods, and can even help if you find you’re suffering from sleep apnoea and not just snoring.
Weight loss will also help your overall health, as being overweight leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Stick to a healthy diet and add some exercise into your day to tone your muscles and reduce the fat.
You may find that your snoring is linked to sleep apnoea. The only way to determine this is by talking to your doctor and finding out what type of sounds you make during the night from your partner.
It can mean more expense, but sleep apnoea is something you need to get under control. Not only will you find you have a better night’s sleep, but you stop putting your health at risk.
It is important to take this seriously even though it's a very simple issue. Though it doesn't pose serious risks at first, always remember that prevention is better than cure.
With this complete guide, you will be on your way to stop snoring for good and improve your overall health and mental wellbeing.