Has your partner noticed that you occasionally stop breathing at night? Do you struggle to stay awake during the day?
You may be suffering from a condition called sleep apnoea
Why Do We Snore?
Snoring occurs when there is an obstruction to the flow of air through the passages at the back of the nose and mouth. The noisy sound is produced by these obstructing structures vibrating as you breathe in and out.
There are a number of causes that can contribute to snoring including:
- Poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat
- Bulky throat tissue e.g. large tonsils or adenoids
- Long soft palate and/or uvula
- Obstructed nasal airways
- Nasal deformities
Other factors such as being overweight and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can increase your chances of snoring.
What Can You Do?
Snoring is very common and in most cases, is not caused by anything serious. A few simple lifestyle changes can help you stop or reduce snoring:
- If you are overweight, try to lose weight
- Try to sleep on your side
- Stop smoking
- Reduce your alcohol intake
If you or a loved one are concerned about your snoring or if it is starting to impact your life, it may be time to seek specialist advice.
Sleep apnoea is a condition where the airways become temporarily blocked during sleep. People with sleep apnoea will usually have episodes of loud snoring followed by periods of silence when breathing stops. Eventually, the drop in oxygen will cause you to wake up, usually with a loud snort or gasp. This cycle continues throughout the night, sometimes up to 5 times per hour if severe, meaning that sleep is extremely disrupted.
In addition to the symptoms above, people with sleep apnoea may feel extremely tired during the day, sometimes finding it hard to stay awake or to concentrate.
If you have any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice, as sleep apnoea can have serious consequences if not treated. Our ENT specialists can help differentiate between simple snoring and sleep apnoea by conducting sleep studies. This involves the use of non-intrusive devices that monitor your sleep. Depending on how severe the condition is, you may require special devices or machines to help you breath while you sleep.