Snoring is most often associated with a common sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Not every snorer is diagnosed with OSA, but if snoring accompanies any of the following indicators, it could be an indication to visit your doctor for more testing for OSA:
- unusual breathing pauses throughout the night
- excessive daytime sleepiness during waking hours
- snoring often stops at night while asleep, then starts again, with a sudden jerk.
A sleep study may indicate an obstruction in the airway, causing the airway to collapse and/or to vibrate as air is inhaled. The presence of a deviated septum can be an indicator that an obstruction exists behind the nose. The septum is the cartilage separating the two halves of the nose. When the cartilage becomes worn, the septum moves out of alignment, allowing the opening for the airway to collapse.
A number of other conditions can cause abnormal breathing patterns during the night. Some of these include allergies, sinus infections, and extreme weight loss or gain. Allergies cause an increased mucus discharge during the night, which makes breathing more difficult. Also, sinus infections make breathing more difficult. Weight loss and gain can result in severe daytime sleepiness, making it difficult to control the snoring.
A deviated nasal septum can be caused by the accumulation of excessive mucous inside the nostrils. This mucous build-up traps foreign matter that the body cannot remove through normal coughing or breathing. When breathing occurs, the airway collapses due to insufficient strength and airway restriction. When a patient suffers from daytime sleep deprivation, he or she may begin to experience symptoms of nasal congestion brought on by the nasal septum being deviated.
Patients with sleep apnea are often given a CPAP device to aid in their treatment for snoring. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is considered the safest treatment for snoring, especially for those who also have obstructive Sleep Apnea. CPAP applies continuous pressure to the upper airway to keep it open during sleep. If OSA is left without treatment, the chances of death from a heart attack and stroke are increased.
If your snoring is caused by lack of tone in the muscles in your throat, then you may find yoga, breathing and singing exercises helpful, as these help to tone the muscles and prevent airway collapse.