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Snoring: Pain In The Ear Or A Real Problem?

3 Minutes Read

What is snoring?

Snoring is noisy breathing while one is asleep. It can affect anyone, mostly in males and overweight individuals. Long term, snoring can affect sleep quality and may lead to health issues. Snoring can also worsen with age.

Snoring may be a common and harmless sleeping condition, but it can also be an indication of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a restriction of the upper airways, which causes breathing cessation, and usually lasts for a few seconds.

Studies have shown that snoring, coupled with OSA can lead to higher risks of heart attacks, heart failure, strokes and even coronary artery disease.

How to stop snoring?

As snoring is a highly prevalent condition, it can be tricky to ascertain if it is a medical issue or simply harmless noise pollution. Here are some home treatments one can try first:

1. Losing and maintaining a health weight

Overweight patients are at higher risk of snoring. However, this may be reversible with weight loss and lifestyle interventions. Seek professional help with diet and exercise plans.

2. Avoid alcohol prior to bedtime

Consuming alcohol before sleep can increase and aggravate snoring by relaxing the muscles in your throat and mouth.

3. Change sleeping positions

Sleeping on your back (supine) has been predominantly linked to OSA, and OSA was shown to be most severe in the supine position. Sleeping on your side helps to prevent your tongue and soft palate from collapsing in the back of your throat.

4. Develop good sleep habits

Bad sleep quality causes the body to become exhausted, in turn this causes the muscles in the back of your throat to become more limp which creates snoring.

5. Keep hydrated

Our mouths sometimes are kept open when snoring, and this causes substantial loss of water leading to dehydration. When dehydrated, thick secretions are produced which blocks the airway, causing snoring. So drink a warm glass of water before bed.

6. Cleanse nasal passages

Clear nasal passages help keep airflow smooth and reduce snoring. Use a sinus rinse kit to flush out your nasal passages before bed.

When to seek professional help

If you’ve tried everything and your sleep is still affected or you do not feel recharged, then perhaps it is time to seek medical help. Your doctor will investigate any underlying condition that is inducing the snoring. Medication and non-medical treatments may be prescribed for non serious cases. However, if your doctor thinks that the snoring is linked to a more pressing health condition, some tests are recommended for further investigation:

  • A sleep study test (polysomnogram) which detects breathing, oxygenation, brain waves, heart rate, eye and leg movements to rule out OSA.
  • A CPAP machine, which conveys a continuous stream of air via a mask over your nose and mouth, keeping your airways open and allowing you to breathe better during sleep. It is a common treatment for OSA.

The last resort will be surgery to repair the nasal passages. This includes correcting a deviated septum, removing polyps or enlarged tissue.

It is essential to have good quality sleep, as harmless as snoring can be, it can also trigger poor physical and mental health. Know when to seek help, reach out to your doctor today.

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