Preventing snoring – what helps?

Preventing snoring - what helps?

A narrowing of the upper airways usually causes snoring. There can be various – mostly harmless – causes behind such a narrowing. Snoring is only dangerous if breathing stops during the night. In such a case, one speaks of sleep apnea. A doctor should check out this severe form of snoring. On the other hand, you can prevent harmless snoring yourself with various means and measures – such as the correct sleeping position or a nasal plaster. Read here what you can do against snoring.

Snoring is a common problem.

Snoring, called rhonchopathy in medicine, is a phenomenon that occurs relatively frequently – especially with increasing age; more and more people snore. The proportion of snorers is highest between 50 and 59, but around 30 per cent of people snore at a younger age. While many people’s snoring noises are relatively quiet, they are sometimes very loud and annoying. The Guinness Book of Records notes a snoring volume of 93 decibels. This corresponds to the background noise of a busy motorway.

Incidentally, there is no evidence that men snore more often than women: Figures that suggest this often come from surveys. However, these could be distorted by the fact that women tend to deny that they snore. In addition, women wake up to noises faster than men. So you notice it more often when your partner snores at night.

 

Causes of Snoring

During sleep, the respiratory muscles relax. If the muscles are relaxed, they can vibrate by the airflow when breathing in and out. The uvula and soft palate are often affected, and in rare cases, the pharynx and the base of the tongue. The sounds made by the muscles vibrating are called snoring.

A narrowing of the upper airways often causes snoring. As a result, the flow rate of the inhaled air increases – the pressure in the pharynx decreases. This encourages the relaxed muscles to vibrate.

There are various causes for a narrowing of the upper airways:

Is snoring harmful to health?

Occasional, regular snoring (also called primary snoring), where air quickly enters the lungs, is not harmful. The quality of your sleep usually does not suffer either. However, increased mouth breathing can lead to symptoms such as frequent bleeding gums, a sore throat, a dry mouth or heartburn.

The situation is different if snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. Breathing stops at times at night, which is why sleep apnea can have serious health consequences if left untreated.

The permanent narrowing of the airways, in which breathing does not stop but is obstructed, can also cause symptoms. One speaks then of the so-called “Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome”. The result can be fatigueheadaches or difficulty concentrating.

 

Snoring as a sign of dangerous sleep apnea

So-called sleep apnea is pronounced snoring that can be accompanied by recurring apnea. These can last 30 seconds or even longer. If you notice that someone is snoring, stops breathing, or involuntarily gasping for air, you should always make the person concerned aware of this so that they can seek medical advice.

The deterioration in the quality of sleep and the short-term undersupply of oxygen can lead to symptoms such as daytime tiredness, exhaustion, nervousness and concentration problems. Studies also indicate that the risk of certain diseases such as high blood pressureheart attack and stroke increases. This is because the lack of oxygen during the night triggers a significant stress response in the body. You can find more information about sleep apnea here.

Prevent snoring – 6 tips and home remedies.

No treatment is necessary if snoring only occurs for a short time – for example, as part of a cold. However, if you snore regularly and disturb the other person’s sleep, it makes sense to do something about the snoring.

Here are some simple tips and home remedies you can use to prevent snoring:

  1. Snoring is particularly common when lying on your back. Therefore, try to sleep on your side or stomach. Lying on your side is better for your neck and back. You can support a change in sleeping position by sewing tennis balls into your pyjamas or wearing a sleep vest or similar aids.
  2. Avoid alcohol, sedatives, sleeping pills and muscle relaxants, as these provide additional relaxation of the respiratory muscles and thus promote snoring.
  3. If you are overweight, try to lose weight. As a result, the fat deposits in the neck and throat decrease and the airways become less blocked.
  4. If you have a cold, decongestant nasal spray can help reduce snoring and help you get a more restful night’s sleep. However, nasal spray should be used for a maximum of one week to avoid getting used to it.
  5. Unique allergy covers are recommended to reduce the symptoms of an allergic cold due to a house dust mite allergy. Antihistamines or nasal cortisone spray can also help reduce nose swelling, such as hay fever.
  6. Rinsing your nose and gargling with water before bed can help clear your nose and throat of mucus, allergy-causing substances, and viruses or bacteria. It also moistens nasal mucosa that is too dry. This frees up the airways and makes snoring less likely.

What to do against snoring? medical examinations

If our first aid tips do not improve snoring, you should find out about other treatment options. It is best to get advice from an ear, nose and throat doctor’s practice to find the best aid for your situation and learn more about the various treatment methods. An orthodontic or dental assessment may also be necessary – for example, if jaw misalignments trigger snoring.

In the ENT practice, the airways are examined. In this way, it can be determined whether, for example, a curvature of the nasal septum or a chronic inflammation of the paranasal sinuses impedes nasal breathing and is the cause of snoring. An allergy test can also be carried out if an allergic sniffle is a possible trigger. The airway resistance (rhinomanometry) is measured on the nose if necessary.

If there is a suspicion of sleep apnea with nocturnal breathing pauses, a so-called respiratory polygraphy can also be carried out. For this purpose, the affected person receives a measuring device that is applied similarly to a long-term ECG. It measures oxygen saturation in the blood, heart rate, snoring noises, respiratory flow and respiratory movement overnight. If the data indicate sleep apnea, the findings can be rechecked in the sleep laboratory. Means for treating sleep apnea are, for example, unique breathing masks (CPAP masks) or tongue pacemakers.

 

Other anti-snoring remedies

If there is no sleep apnea, appropriate remedies can be tried after consulting a doctor, with which the affected person can stop or at least reduce the snoring. You will find a selection below.

Nasenpflaster

Try to curb snoring with nasal plasters from the pharmacy. The patches widen the nostrils, making it easier to breathe. They are particularly recommended if a cold is the cause of the snoring.

Nasenklammer

A nose clip is inserted into the front of the nose and spreads the nostrils to allow for better breathing. It’s made of silicone and is U-shaped, with small balls at each end. The nose clip is also often referred to as a nasal spreader.

 

Anti-snoring band or anti-snoring strap

If you snore with your mouth open, an anti-snoring band can be helpful. The lower jaw is fixed with an elastic strap so the mouth is closed at night.

For those who snore, especially when lying on their back, an anti-snoring bandage or anti-snoring belt can be a way to reduce snoring. The bandage is placed around the upper body and fixed. A sewn-in cushion on the back prevents the wearer from turning in the supine position. Similar products are, for example, anti-snoring vests or backpacks.

Mundvorhofplatte

An oral vestibule plate, a snoring pacifier, is intended to prevent mouth breathing. This is placed between the lips and the front teeth. It is equipped with a pressure indicator that provides information about the correct seating of the plate.

The use of the atrial plate suppresses breathing through the mouth. In addition, the tongue is pressed against the front teeth, which opens the airways. If it is possible to train the new tongue position, the insertion of the oral vestibule plate can be dispensed with after a specific time.

If nasal breathing is permanently restricted, for example, due to a crooked nasal septum, the use of an oral vestibular plate should be clarified by a doctor in any case.

Snoring splint (lower jaw protrusion splint)

A lower jaw protrusion splint (UKPS), also known as a snoring splint, is used when the tongue falls back in the mouth at night and thus narrows the airways. It pushes the lower jaw and, thus, the tongue slightly forward. As a result, it must stay strong.

The snoring splint consists of two parts: one for the upper and one for the lower jaw. These are connected laterally by a small joint so the jaw can be held in a good position. The jaw protrusion splint is individually manufactured using a jaw impression. It must be worn continuously at night.

 

palatal brace

A palatal brace ensures that the soft palate is fixed. The brace prevents the air duct from closing behind the soft palate. The air can thus pass through the respiratory tract without resistance while sleeping, and the development of snoring noises is prevented.

Surgery as a last resort to stop snoring

Snoring can also be partially corrected with surgery. However, surgery is not always successful, so it should always be considered a last resort. Before the operation, you should also be informed in detail about the risks and side effects of the procedure.

Surgical interventions can sometimes lead to injuries to the palate, teeth, uvula and tongue, as well as unpleasant scars. In some cases, those affected may have problems swallowing or speaking after snoring surgery.

Below is an overview of some standard surgical procedures:

  • Operations on the nose:  If, for example, polyps or a deformed nasal septum are behind the snoring, these problems can usually be remedied relatively easily with surgery.
  • Jaw advancement: An operative jaw advancement is performed if the lower jaw is too far back or too small. This increases the permeability of the airways.
  • Uvulo-palate-pharyngoplasty (UPPP procedure): The palate and mucous membrane of the throat are tightened, and the uvula is partially removed. Nowadays, gentler procedures such as laser-assisted uvula-palatoplasty are usually recommended.
  • Radiofrequency therapy: This method destroys excess tissue from the nose and throat area using high doses of radio waves. An alternative method with a similar function is laser therapy.

 

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