I love my Dad, heís a great guy. Only thing is, he snores loud enough to wake you up from another room. Heís not alone; 25% of men habitually snore. A puppy or alpaca snoring in its sleep is cute: a 90 kilo man who does the same is not so much.
Snoring may seem pretty harmless, but there are a host of hidden dangers to this unintentional pastime.
Since most of us who snore are unaware when weíre doing so, it can be a condition that is largely ignored. Unless we are such exceptionally proficient snorers that we wake ourselves when we do it, itís unlikely that the condition will have any adverse effect that we recognise. The thing is, though we might not recognise it, snoring is indeed affecting our health.
So what are some of the dastardly effects snoring can have on us? Sleep apnoea, while not necessarily caused by snoring itself, is a condition which very often accompanies it. Apnoea is characterised by a pause in breathing while sleeping, usually caused by the obstruction of the airways. Apnoea can lead to poorly oxygenated blood and habitual drowsiness. In the long term it can lead to high blood pressure and even an enlarged heart due to the increased strain on the muscle. Sleep apnoea in itself is rarely acutely dangerous, but its chronic effects can reduce a personís quality of life.
A person suffering from sleep apnoea may wake up several times a night, and the sleeping they do get done is often quite light. If you wake up tired constantly despite believing yourself to be getting an appropriate number of hours sleep, then you may be suffering from sleep apnoea. Many sufferers donít even remember in the morning the times that they may have woken the previous night. No-one like feeling irritable, but sufferers of sleep apnoea may spend almost all their waking hours in an irritable state. This can adversely affect any number of aspects of their lives, from relationships to careers.
So how do we stop snoring? There are several ways to improve your nighttime breathing, some more difficult than others. Snoring most often occurs in people who are overweight as the increased amount of tissue in the throat helps collapse the airways in on each other. Losing weight is one of the more direct ways to combat snoring, not to mention the other health benefits it can have. However this requires an earnest commitment from the sufferer.
Snoring is caused by the collapse of the throatís airways in on themselves, so a very basic way to reduce snoring is to sleep on oneís stomach or side rather than back. This reduces gravityís effect on tissue in the throat, and makes it less likely for the tongue to fall back into the airways. When combined with weight loss this strategy can be very effective.
Snoring usually grows worse with age, due to the weakening and slackening of muscles in the throat. This is an unavoidable effect of the aging process, but the same effect can be caused by alcohol or other sedatives. Avoiding drinking regularly before sleep can help reduce snoring.
As you can see, snoring is a health condition which is caused by the many of the same things which contribute to poor health in general. Changing certain lifestyle traits can not only reduce suffering from snoring but from many other chronic long term health problems as well. However if snoring persists even after these lifestyle changes then there may be no other choice than to opt for artificial means to combat it.
There are several methods for preventing snoring through the use of artificial aids. Unfortunately most are uncomfortable at the very least and a major inconvenience at worst. Nasal strips designed to hold the airways open are a practical solution, but can be ineffective in some cases. Other options such as mouth guards or equipment which provide continuous positive airway pressure through the use of a face mask are simply too invasive for many to bother with.
One exciting development in the treatment of snoring
is the use of laser treatment called nightlase.
Laser treatment involves using laser technology to tighten and strengthen muscles and tissue in the back of the throat. By tightening these tissues the chances of the airways collapsing during sleep is reduced. Laser treatment combats sleep apnoea in the same manner as losing weight, however it is also effective in the elderly, where the natural progress of time has caused snoring. Laser treatment is non-invasive and non-surgical, and no modification to a personís sleep habits is necessary for it to be effective.
Snoring is an all too often overlooked health condition. Though not a particularly dangerous condition in itself, it can often point to greater underlying health issues. Since it only affects one during sleep, it can be easy to overlook and even easier to ignore, despite the negative consequences it can have on our health, relationships and life satisfaction. Fortunately since itís a symptom, not a cause of most of the health conditions that accompany it, there are a number of steps we can take to counteract it. The sooner, the better.
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