Snoring, or noisy breathing during sleep, is a typical problem that affects over 90 million American adults, more than one-third of which say they snore on a regular basis. Loud, chronic snoring isn't just a nuisance — it can also be a sign of a serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea. At SleepCues, our renowned sleep medicine practice with locations in Wilson, Raleigh, and Clayton, North Carolina, board-certified sleep medicine specialist Dr. Domingo Rodriguez-Cué provides comprehensive solutions for patients who snore, so they can sleep without worry. Call or book your appointment online today.
Simply put, snoring is a product of relaxation. When you sleep, the muscles in your esophagus relax, your tongue drops back, and your throat becomes narrower. With each inhale, the walls of your throat vibrate a little, which is what gives snoring its characteristic sound. A narrower airway causes a greater vibration, leading to louder snoring.
Although snoring affects people of all ages and both genders, the problem tends to be worse among older adults because the normal aging process makes throat muscles even more relaxed.
People who are overweight or obese are also more likely to snore, because they store more fat around the neck. Other common reasons for snoring include:
Some people only snore when they’re in certain sleep positions, while others snore because they have anatomical abnormalities of the nose and throat, such as a deviated septum.
Loud, chronic snoring is a tell-tale sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a potentially serious sleep disorder in which your respiration slows or briefly stops during sleep. It occurs when the walls of your throat become so relaxed that they collapse, obstructing your airway completely.
While not all chronic snorers have OSA, it’s important to be tested for the condition if you sometimes wake up gasping for air, or if your sleep partner has ever witnessed pauses in your breathing as you sleep. Other signs of OSA include:
Being overweight increases the risk of OSA and having OSA increases your risk of developing serious, long-term health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Because chronic snoring can cause your sleep to be less restful and restorative, and because it may also be a sign of OSA, it’s important to see a board-certified sleep medicine expert.
Dr. Cué has helped numerous patients overcome snoring issues by making simple lifestyle modifications. Losing weight, finding the best sleep positions and avoiding alcohol close to bedtime are just a few actions that can help stop chronic snoring.
Strengthening the muscles around your airway with simple, daily mouth exercises may also be beneficial.
If tests reveal that you have mild to moderate OSA, Dr. Cué can work closely with your dentist to create a custom oral appliance. These devices position your jaw to help keep your airway open when you sleep.