If you snore while you sleep, you’re not alone.
Snoring is a problem faced by many. Here, Dr Lynne Lim of Lynne Lim Ear Nose Throat & Hearing Centre, shares the most pertinent facts about snoring and what can be done to treat it.
Causes of snoring can vary from a nose blockage triggered by a crooked septal bone in the nose, over-large inferior turbinates (structures on the side wall of the inner nose), chronic rhinosinusitis, allergies and polyps. Other causes include low-lying soft palates, a thick or short neck, obesity and a prolapsed tongue base.
A sleep study is needed to determine the severity of your snoring and the cause. This can be done at home, but more complex cases will need to be addressed at a clinic or hospital. In some cases, snoring is a sign of a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnoea, in which you can’t breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. In Singapore, one in three people suffer from moderate to severe OSA.
In addition to being tired and irritable in the day, snoring may also cause side effects like mild headaches and result in poor concentration and memory. Additionally, there is an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes for adults with OSA.
There are various treatments available. For mild snoring, a change of sleep position, avoiding alcohol and smoking, managing one’s weight and nasal blocks can help. You may also require oral devices or medication. However, over-the-counter products to treat snoring should not be tried without a sleep study or doctor’s evaluation, as treatments should be tailored to the cause.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks are the gold standard treatment for advanced cases. However, some patients may find it hard to tolerate the masks. Another alternative is careful and targeted surgery to the nose, soft palate, the base of the tongue or jaw.
A version of this story first appeared in The Finder.