San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA
Does your partner complain about your snoring? According to a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania, it’s estimated that 57% of men and 40% of women in America are snorers. Snoring might be fairly common, but it stems from a variety of different causes—some of which could jeopardize your health and well-being. In this article, your San Francisco airway dentists at Glen Park Dental share six overlooked causes of snoring.
Factor 1: Aging
Aging is inevitable and leads to changes in your health and appearance. One of those changes might be a shift in sleeping habits. You might have more difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep as you get older. Also, as you age, the muscles of the throat and tongue may become overly relaxed. This means the muscles can sag into the airway, creating a blockage. As air passes around that blockage, it creates a vibration and noise, which is what you hear when someone snores.
Factor 2: Nose or Throat Conditions
There are several physical or conditions that can make someone snore: a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils, nasal polyps, seasonal allergies, or sinus congestion. If your congestion stems from a sinus infection, it could take prescription medication to resolve the problem. At the same time, seasonal allergies and colds could be managed through the use of antihistamines and over-the-counter decongestants.
Factor 3: Your Sleeping Position
How you sleep can lead to snoring. If you lie on your back when you sleep, for example, you are more likely to snore. Sleep on your side or stomach instead. If you’re naturally inclined to sleep on your back, put pillows around your body to prevent you from shifting. You also can talk to your partner and see if they notice you snore worse in certain sleeping positions.
Factor 4: Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol is a relaxant. That means it can make the muscles of the throat collapse into the airway. As mentioned above, that blockage is what leads to snoring. You may think that having a drink before bed will help you sleep, but you’re not actually getting the restful sleep you envision—and neither is your partner if that nightcap makes you snore.
Factor 5: Weight
Many of us carry around at least a few too many pounds, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Being overweight can raise your risk of several health conditions—such as cardiac disease, diabetes, and a variety of sleep breathing disorders that can lead to snoring. Furthermore, if you’re overweight, you have a greater chance of poor muscle tone, making soft-tissue collapses in the airway more likely.
Factor 6: Sleep Apnea
One of the most serious and most well-known sleep breathing disorders is obstructive sleep apnea. This develops when you have an airway blockage that impedes breathing or interrupts the flow of air altogether. Someone with sleep apnea experiences these blockages—known as apneic events—frequently during the night. Each time one occurs, oxygen levels in the body drop, and the brain sends signals to the body to resume normal breathing. You may never wake up consciously, but this brain activity brings you out of the sleep cycle, meaning you spend less time than you should in the deepest stages of sleep. Over time, living with sleep apnea compromises your ability to rest, and with it, your ability to be at your best physical and mental health. Sleep apnea also elevates your risk of several chronic, potentially life-threatening ailments, making it crucial to seek proper treatment from a qualified medical professional. Snoring is considered the primary warning sign of sleep apnea.
Treating Sleep Apnea in San Francisco
Only a sleep specialist can make a proper, official diagnosis of sleep apnea. However, a sleep apnea dentist has specialized training in airway management that can treat a case of obstructive sleep apnea, preventing the attacks and letting you get the deep, restful sleep you had been denied. At Glen Park Dental, we can treat your sleep apnea through oral appliance therapy. This entails providing you with a custom-made oral orthotic that has been designed specifically to fit your mouth. Wearing the orthotic while you sleep keeps your airway open throughout the night, preventing the blockages that cause apneic events.
If you snore loudly on a regular basis, you can make lifestyle changes to mitigate the above factors. However, you also may be suffering from sleep apnea and never realize it. If this is the case, you should be screened by a sleep apnea dentist like the ones at Glen Park Dental. We can also refer you to a sleep specialist for a sleep study. To find out more or schedule a consultation, call our office today at (415) 585-1500 if you live in the areas of Oakland, San Francisco, and Marin in California.