Saturday, February 10, 2007

Snoring Should Be Taken Seriously

Movies and television depict snoring as funny and hilarious. But snoring is no joke: Its a medical problem that can have some serious health and social implications. Up to half of adults snore at some time. Of those, half are habitual snorers who may keep their partners awake just about every night by snoring in most sleeping positions. When you hear someone snoring, it means air is not flowing freely through the back of the throat. The sound occurs when air causes vibration of the soft palate and the uvula, the tiny pink flap that hangs down at the rear of your throat.

The average snorer is a man in his early 40s or older. In fact, snoring affects men more often than women. About 20 to 50 percent of snorers may have sleep apnea, which obstructs the airway so badly that the snorer actually stops breathing for 10 seconds or more, up to 300 times a night. Each time people awaken very briefly. People with sleep apnea never feel well rested and decreased alertness makes them more prone to accidents. Severe cases can cause a 10 percent drop in oxygen, straining the heart.

The standard treatment for sleep apnea involves wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask on the noses when sleeping. But your doctor can also recommend other treatments, including a bite guard fitted by a dentist to move the lower jaw forward slightly.

To limit snoring:

  • Control your weight. Extra weight can worsen snoring.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Keep a routine schedule with adequate sleep.
  • Sleep on your side. On your back, the tongue tends to fall into the throat reducing airflow. You snore as you breathe through your mouth to compensate.
  • Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and tranquilizer. They blunt the body's drive to breathe, worsening sleep apnea.



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