How to stop snoring: causes of snoring and what help is there?
Every third person has the same wish: Either s/he wants to stop snoring, or they would like to find a solution for their partner’s snoring.
Men are particularly affected from snoring, but in women the frequency increases with age – and with increasing weight. In this article you will find out what causes snoring, when it becomes dangerous and how to reduce or even stop it.
First some good news: Rhonchopathy, the medical term for snoring, is usually harmless to health. The snorer himself often does not even notice his “sawing”. Nevertheless, it influences the deep sleep phases, so that your body can miss a nightly recovery.
The partner often does not have a good night’s sleep either. Loud and irregular snoring can also be a sign of breathing disorders. Above all, repeated respiratory arrests – the so-called sleep apnea – should be examined by a doctor.
How does snoring come about?
The typical snoring noises can arise in several places in the upper airway. Whenever the air encounters resistance while breathing, this leads to a more or less loud vibration of the soft tissue in the mouth and throat.
This occurs especially at the narrowing of the airway, such as the tonsils, the base of the tongue or the soft palate where the uvula is hanging. When the body relaxes during sleep and the muscles slacken, the throat area generally becomes a little narrower.
If you then lie on your back, the lower jaw folds down, the tongue slides back into the throat and thus narrows the airway. A large tongue or thickened tonsils also make the throat area smaller and can lead to snoring.
How can one exclude sleep apnea?
If the breath stops for several seconds while snoring, this can lead to a lack of oxygen – and increase the risk of serious illnesses such as high blood pressure and strokes. Anyone who snores heavily and irregularly should, therefore, definitely consult a doctor to rule out dangerous sleep apnea.
What are the causes of snoring?
Before you can find a solution to stop snoring, you must clarify the causes. Anything that narrows the airway during sleep can trigger rhonchopathy. This includes a mite allergy, a cold with swollen nasal mucous membranes, polyps or chronic inflammation of the sinuses.
Anatomical causes are also possible, such as a lower jaw that is too small, an enlarged pharynx, a deformed nasal septum or an elongated soft palate with enlarged uvula.
Since muscles and tissues slacken over the years, snoring also increases in frequency and volume with age. Then women also start snoring who were previously protected from it by a higher amount of female hormones.
Another common cause is obesity. This is due to the increased fat tissue, which is often too elastic, and creates a higher vibration surface on the neck. Sleeping pills or alcohol consumption in the evening, however, also reduce muscle tension and can increase snoring noises.
What can you do about snoring?
Since many people only snore when they are on their back, try to sleep on your side. The tennis ball sewn into the pajamas, which is supposed to prevent a supine position, is not necessarily recommended, as it constantly disturbs sleep.
Mechanical aids to stop snoring, such as nose clips or plasters that are supposed to prevent breathing through the mouth, can only help in individual cases. Those who do without alcohol or sleeping pills before going to sleep, however, and aim for long-term weight loss if they are overweight can significantly reduce snoring.
If necessary, the doctor can also adjust a so-called protrusion splint, which you wear at night: This pushes the lower jaw forward in order to shift the tongue, the base of the tongue and the soft palate a little forward and, thus, reduce any constrictions in the airway.
If you have to stop snoring because there is an anatomical cause for rhonchopathy, sleep surgery is possible. For example, when straightening a crooked nasal septum widens the airway. Polyps or often inflamed tonsils can also be removed if they narrow the throat.
In individual cases, the soft palate can also be made smaller or tissue stiffening in different places in order to reduce the loud vibrations.
Not all treatment options are covered by statutory health insurance. Therefore, it makes sense to find out in advance whether the intended form of therapy can be covered by the health insurance company.
Study: Does gymnastics help against snoring?
A recent study also shows that special, daily tongue exercises can reduce snoring. Even 20 repetitions of each exercise a day can help reduce the frequency and volume of snoring.
- Simply press the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and let it slide backwards.
- Suck the tongue surface on the roof of the mouth and hold it for a few seconds.
- Press the tongue down, pressing the tip of the tongue from behind against the lower row of teeth.
- Open the back of the palate and say “A”.
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