The Snore: that nightmare

Written by: Dr. Eduard Estivill Sancho
Edited by: Top Doctors®

95% of the population snores at some point in their life. Snoring is more common in men than in women, but the proportion is even after menopause. Thus, it is a socially accepted fact that men snore and women endure this horrible nightmare. And is that until now nobody consulted a doctor for snoring, since it was considered as something natural and associated with a good dream. However, reality shows the opposite: the more you snore, the worse you fall asleep. And most importantly, snoring can be diminished, or even made to disappear altogether.One of the most important reasons for discomfort in couples is snoring. Snoring is an anomalous act that only occurs when we sleep, and is the consequence of the vibration of the soft tissues of the oropharynx as the air breathed.


The Snoring Process. How is it produced?

The inspired air enters through the nose, passes through the nostrils, passes behind the veil of the palate and through the pharynx, and then passes through the trachea and reaches the lungs. These structures, known as upper respiratory tract, are muscles of different sizes and functions. When a person is awake, the muscle tone of these structures is sufficient to keep these pathways well open, and the air enters and exits through them without any problem, although with sleep, these muscles relax.Relaxation produces a closure of these pathways, and the air in and out causes the vocal cords and soft parts of the neck to vibrate slightly, resulting in snoring.


What are the causes of snoring?

Mechanics: are all those that produce a blockage of the upper respiratory tract. There are several reasons that make snoring more intense. In addition to loss of pharynx tone, if the place where the air must pass is numb, the sound will be greater. Therefore, any impairment in the upper respiratory tract can lead to snoring. At the nose level there may be polyps, deviations of the septum, rhinitis or simply mucus that hinders the passage of air.• Morphological : also the shape of the face can influence snoring, especially in the lower jaw. In people with a backward (retrognatia) or small (micrognathia) chin, one should assume that when they fall asleep and relax, the muscles of that part of the face will shift, blocking the entrance of air, producing snoring. For this reason you snore a lot more when you sleep on your back, since even the tongue can prevent the passage of air.• Overweight : weight gain can also be a cause of snoring. Perhaps the most important reason, since many people, especially men, gain a few pounds as they age, accumulating that fat in the abdomen and the internal muscles of the neck. That fatty tissue, makes the muscles become more flaccid and closes more easily, causing the noise of the air to pass.Thus, the production of snoring is simply a problem of the passage of air from the nose or mouth to the lungs and vice versa.


What Impact Does Snoring Have?

Snoring annoys the listener and does not disturb the person who produces it. The intensity of snoring will depend on the difficulty of entering and exiting the air.The repercussions are different for who produces the noise and the one that suffers it. The snorer, if you do not tell him, will hardly notice that he snores, and will only do so rarely, usually at the beginning of sleep.Obviously, the snorer does not do it because he wants to, but because of the difficulty of entering and leaving the air. Thus, the continuous awakenings to which he is subjected by means of "noises" or elbows, make that the snorer puts itself of bad mood.However, the case of those who suffer from the acoustic consequences of snoring is worse, since trying to fall asleep may be impossible. And is that in severe cases, where snoring is accompanied by apnea, can reach 80 decibels, noise similar to crossing two streets with four or more lanes of cars.


How is snoring diagnosed?

It is not necessary to resort to sophisticated techniques, since it is enough to listen and define if it is a continuous snoring. This information is vital to make a diagnosis, as it is soft or intense, the important thing is that the snorer does not stop, that is, do not stop at any time to breathe.The best time to check would be to watch the snorer for an hour. If the noise is continuous, then it is a benign snore, that is to say, at least for the one who produces them - for the one who listens to it is malignant, since it will not be able to sleep - since no repercussions any problem in his organism.If breathing stops, you should see a specialist in Sleep Medicine and Clinical Neurophysiology to diagnose a possible Sleep Apnea Syndrome. When we are sure that there is only continuous snoring, then the patient should review all anatomical structures that may be involved in the production of snoring.


The Treatment of Snoring

• Mechanical cause: If the problem is due to an increase in angina or adenoids, deviated septum or large uvula, it is always best to consult with an otolaryngologist.• Morphological cause: if the cause is a malformation of the lower jaw (or too small or pulled back), then it is necessary to consult with a dentist, being the most common that prescribes a dental prosthesis that we will place during the night between the Teeth to prevent moving the jaw back when we sleep and closing the air passage through the neck.• Cause overweight or: if the reason is a few kilos more, the snore will disappear when the patient loses weight. It is the most effective method, but also the most difficult to perform, since it requires a high degree of will.Especially, it is very important not to use the "miracle" home remedies, which announce press, radio, and television. The drops that cure the snoring, the nasal tweezers, the pillows ... These inventions are only "enredabobos", that only serve to fill the pockets of those who manufacture them.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Eduard Estivill Sancho
Sleep Specialist

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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