Frequently the material of comedy sketches and jokes, uncontrolled snoring is, in reality, rarely a laughing matter. Discover below what causes this common yet distressing condition and take a look at some popular treatment options which can give relief.

What causes snoring?

Snoring normally occurs when soft tissues in the head or neck vibrate during sleep. Because the airways automatically narrow when the body is at rest, the resultant increase in breathing speed and air pressure causes the soft tissue to vibrate by pulling the airways inward. Nasal congestion or other partial blockages to the upper respiratory tract can also result in unwanted snoring.
 

Risks for snoring

Although many people may snore from time to time, particularly when they have a cold, hay fever or a similar condition, some groups of people are especially prone to loud, persistent snoring. Being overweight, consuming alcohol immediately before bed, smoking and ageing are all factors which can increase the risk of snoring developing. Some people who suffer from persistent allergies which cause rhinitis may also find that snoring remains a problem.
 

Lifestyle solutions

Ensuring the head and neck are appropriately supported and abstaining from alcohol before sleeping may be sufficient to relieve snoring. Some snorers can obtain relief by stopping smoking, or maintaining a sensible weight. For allergy sufferers, removing the cause of the rhinitis or taking appropriate medicine to remedy the issue frequently brings relief. A popular solution is to undertake regular exercise, which over time can strengthen the muscles of the neck and jaw, reducing the risk of snoring. Often sleeping on one’s back can increase the likelihood of snoring, so a change in sleeping position may well be beneficial.
 

Interventions

If symptoms persist despite these lifestyle measures, some people opt to purchase nasal strips or dilators, which are designed to push the nostrils apart during sleep, reducing the risk of snoring. Particularly when snoring is combined with a feeling of permanent tiredness, or getting a broken night’s sleep, it’s worth visiting the GP to rule out sleep apnoea. 

Sleep apnoea occurs when the airways narrow to the extent that the sufferer stops breathing, subconsciously rousing themselves from sleep in order to take a breath. It’s important that a prompt diagnosis is made and appropriate treatment obtained if necessary. In very severe cases surgery can be performed, but this is a rare option and frequently will need to be paid for privately, as the NHS funds it only in extreme circumstances.

For most people snoring is an irritating, but not life threatening, condition, which can be effectively treated by making some straight-forward changes and perhaps investing in some relatively inexpensive purchases. Occasionally snoring may be indicative of a more serious underlying problem, so don’t forget to visit a medical professional if you don’t obtain relief from lifestyle alterations. For many sufferers, simply purchasing ear plugs for people sleeping within hearing range of the snores may be sufficient to resolve the issue and ensure a good night’s sleep for the entire household.

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