The term ‘snoring’ refers to the rattling noise people make while they are asleep. The noise, which is often compared to snorting or very heavy breathing, is made by the reverberation of the soft tissue at the back of the throat. Snoring is a very common problem but most people only snore on an occasional basis. However, if you snore on a regular basis, it may start to cause problems related to disturbed sleep, which may include health problems, reduced performance at work and strained personal relationships.
What causes snoring?
There are many possible causes of snoring. Many people find that they only snore when they are ill with a cold, which makes breathing difficult, and some people only snore when they sleep in a certain position and it is usually more common when people sleep on their back.
Other causes of snoring include:
- Drinking alcohol: alcohol relaxes the muscles, which makes the airways narrower and subsequently increases the risk of snoring
- Being overweight
- Certain types of medication: some medicines, including anti-depressants and sedatives, increase the risk of snoring
- Allergies: allergic rhinitis, a condition that causes the inside of the nose to become swollen, increases the risk of snoring. Allergens which can contribute to allergic rhinitis include dust allergies and hay fever
Symptoms of snoring
The most obvious symptom of snoring is the noise made when an individual is asleep, which is made by the soft tissues vibrating when you breathe. This can now be addressed through several snoring treatments now available on the market. Other symptoms of snoring develop as a result of disturbed sleep and include:
- Feeling tired during the day
- Falling asleep during the day
- Feeling irritable
- Loss of libido
- Poor memory
- Lack of concentration
When should I see a doctor?
If you snore on a regular basis and it is affecting your overall health, emotional health or your social life, you should consider seeing your GP. Your GP will be able to suggest lifestyle changes and if these do not make a difference to your snoring, they can suggest possible medical treatments to help you stop snoring.
How can snoring be treated?
If you have any of the risk factors listed above, for example, if you smoke, drink or are overweight, your doctor may suggest making changes to your lifestyle which should improve your snoring. If you are overweight losing weight will benefit your general health, as well as helping with your snoring and your doctor will be able to offer you information and advice about healthy eating and exercise. If you smoke your GP can put you in touch with a local stop smoking service and if you drink, your GP will advise you to avoid drinking before going to bed. If you have an allergy you may be prescribed antihistamines to ease your symptoms.
If making these changes does not ease your snoring, see your GP again and they will be able to advise you about medical treatments.