To many, the concept of snoring is somewhat comical, at least at first. For those of us that have to sleep with a snorer, the concept of snoring is not funny in the least. For snorers, we are tired of hearing people jab us for being human “chainsaws”, and may ourselves be tired of getting poor quality sleep. It’s time to take a closer look at our problem. If you’re ready to stop snoring, contact Dr. Lowrance.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring is the sound of a partially blocked or collapsed airway when someone is sleeping. Breathing in and out through this narrowed airway causes the tissues in the throat such as the soft palate, the uvula, the tonsils and adenoids, or excess fat in the throat (or a combination thereof) to vibrate and create the sounds.
The tissues in the throat may narrow the airway for a variety of reasons. Alcohol and drugs that promote drowsiness relax the airway and can cause snoring. A history of inflamed or enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids can cause snoring. Simply being overweight can cause it due to an increase in fatty tissue in the throat and the sheer weight of the neck in an overweight person can pinch the airway. Asthma, allergies, smoking, and even the common cold can all increase irritation, constriction, or congestion of the air passages.
At the root of the problem, in most cases, is a neuromuscularly imbalanced temporomandibular joint (TMJ). If the TMJ is not balanced in a neuromuscularly position (think of an acrobat on a high wire), the throat collapses somewhat and the tongue slips back, blocking the airway. Note that snoring does not mean you are just getting older; it is an alarm going off telling you that you are in danger of suffocating.
Snoring As A Symptom
Snoring can be relatively harmless and temporary, but chronic snoring is usually a sign of a serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that can mean that a person literally stops breathing for 10 to 30 seconds, sometimes up to a minute, hundreds of times in a night. This decreases the oxygen levels in the blood and so deprives the brain and other vital organs of the body of the oxygen that they need. Hence, it is like seeing police lights in your rear view mirror and a siren wailing behind your car. You don’t know if you’re getting a ticket until the police car passes you by. You don’t know if it is a serious problem unless you seek help and are tested for sleep apnea.
There are hundreds of snoring treatments out there. They range from behavioral adjustments such as sleeping on your side, to strips that you wear on your nose, to sleep apnea appliances, to surgery. It is important to note that not all snoring treatments actually treat sleep apnea. If you snore, you should be tested for sleep apnea, otherwise successful treatment may only be masking the problem of sleep apnea, which is a very dangerous disease. Dr. Lowrance uses neuromuscular dentistry to diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea. Frequently the best treatment is a combination of multiple therapies.
If you live in Corpus Christi, and snoring has been a problem for you or a loved one for a while, call Dr. Lowrance as soon as you can. Snoring can be the “tip of the iceberg” and should be taken very seriously. Schedule your consultation today. Together you can discuss a snoring treatment plan that starts you on the path to a life free from snoring. Call us at (361) 851-8274.