Do you snore? According to the Sleep Foundation, snoring affects more than 72 million men and over 52 million women in America. If you’re one of the many people who snores regularly, take a look at the do’s and don’ts of treating this common condition.
Do Visit an ENT Specialist
Even though snoring is a common issue that many adults experience, you shouldn’t necessarily let it go or assume that it’s just something that you have to deal with. While snoring might not seem like a medical issue, it is. This means you can, and should, seek help from a medical provider—in this case an ear, nose, and throat specialist, sometimes called an ENT.
Not only can a doctor help you to stop snoring, they can evaluate your symptoms and make a diagnosis. Some “snorers” have obstructive sleep apnea (or OSA). This sleep-related breathing condition can cause you to stop and start breathing over and over again when you sleep. OSA happens when the muscles of the throat relax and block the airway.
Along with snoring, other symptoms of OSA may include fatigue during the day, mood changes, dry mouth, sore throat, headaches in the morning, waking up abruptly in the middle of the night, or difficulty concentrating. If you snore and have other possible symptoms of OSA, an ENT can examine and evaluate you for the disorder. This can help you to better understand why you snore and how to treat it. Your doctor may order imaging tests—such as an X-ray or MRI—or a sleep study to learn more about why you snore.
Don’t Let Lifestyle Factors Make Snoring Worse
Provided you don’t have OSA, some of your lifestyle factors could cause you to snore or increase the likelihood of snoring. Excessive alcohol consumption, weight gain, and poor sleep habits—not getting enough sleep overall—could cause you to snore. If you reduce or eliminate these risk factors, it’s possible you might stop snoring. Talk to your doctor about these lifestyle factors and how you can make healthy changes to reduce or prevent snoring.
Do Discuss Treatment Options With an ENT
Lifestyle factors can have a major impact on snoring. But chances to your diet, physical activity level, alcohol intake, and sleep patterns may not completely solve every snorer’s problems. If you don’t have lifestyle factors that could affect snoring or have made significant lifestyle factor changes and still snore, you have treatment options.
Without treatment, snoring could impact your daily life and your relationships. People who snore often wake repeatedly during the night. This can result in extreme daytime fatigue and fogginess. It can also keep people in your household awake at night. This can make it difficult, if not impossible, to sleep in the same bed as your spouse or partner. Household members who lose sleep due to your snoring may harbor feelings of resentment, making these close relationships challenging to maintain.
Oral appliances are a common first-step treatment for snoring in people who don’t have OSA. A dental mouthpiece or mouthguard can help to keep the airway open all night long by changing the position of your jaw, soft palate, and tongue. You may also need to try mouth exercises, adjust your sleep position, or raise the head of your bed when you go to sleep.
If your snoring is related to OSA, you may need to try a continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machine. This device fits over your nose and mouth. It directs pressurized air into your airways as you sleep and can eliminate snoring.
Are you ready to stop snoring? Contact GNO Snoring and Sinus for more information.