The other side of snoring

Snoring is a common phenomenon, which is often joked about. People who snore in their sleep are often the target of jokes and mockery. However, people fail to realize that snoring could have a dark side and that snoring could actually be a symptom of a serious underlying condition.

Snoring is such a common concern in lots of people, we must have heard a lot of wives complain how loudly their husbands snore and all that they do is get used to it or give an elbow tug to the snorer in their sleep. Snoring could be caused as a result of blocked airways, causing obstructed breathing and should not be taken lightly. Snoring occurs when the airway at the back of the mouth and nose is obstructed.

Sometimes snoring can be perfectly normal but in other cases, it could lead to a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder. While some people may be simple snorers, the others could be suffering from a serious sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It should be noted, however, that snoring doesn’t always indicate OSA.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea from among the various other forms. It is a common yet serious sleep disorder that causes brief but interrupted breathing during the sleep. OSA is caused when the throat muscles relax more than required, causing your airway to be blocked resulting in heavy and loud snoring. Since the condition only occurs during the sleep, an individual only realizes it when their bed partner complaints of their snoring.

The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea in adults is obesity and being overweight. Other risk factors that increase an individual’s risk of developing the condition are:

  • Having small nasal cavity
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes & Blood Pressure
  • Age
  • Structural deformities
  • Underlying health conditions

The condition is caused in children in case of enlarged tonsils or adenoids. In certain cases, some birth defects may also cause the condition in children.

Symptoms of OSA differ in children and adults. The most obvious symptom of the condition is loud snoring. Other symptoms include;

  • Fatigue or sleepiness during the day
  • Dry mouth upon waking up
  • Disturbed sleep at night
  • Unrefreshed sleep
  • Headaches in the morning

The visible symptoms of OSA in children may, however, not be as obvious as in adults, they include;

  • Restlessness in bed
  • Unusual sleeping postures
  • Problems at school
  • Behavioral problems
  • Bedwetting

The most important step towards treating OSA is to understand the difference between snoring and sleep apnea. For all those who often get nudged in their sleep by their troubled bed partners, it is extremely crucial to understand if their snoring has more to it. Snoring occurs when the tissues in the throat relax and block the airway, hence creating a sound. However, depending on various other lifestyle factors the sound may be louder or softer. Loud snoring is often an indication of OSA.

Similar to various other health conditions, the first line of treatment for OSA is lifestyle modification. Shedding the extra pounds and quitting smoking is extremely important changes to be brought in an individual’s lifestyle in order to treat the condition. Although lifestyle modifications alone may not help resolve the condition and one may require consulting with a specialist who would be able to decide on a suitable treatment option. The treatment modalities for OSA include; lifestyle modifications, medications, breathing devices and surgery. Lifestyle modifications and breathing devices may be the initial modes recommended by the specialist. Moreover, the treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea depends on the severity of the sleep disorder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Mrinal Ashok Raiker

Specialist Pulmonologist

Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai (AJMC)

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