Is there any treatment for persistent snoring?

Snoring is something that many people find amusing but the reality can be somewhat different. A partner who snores (usually the man!) can become rather irritating and result in the need for separate beds!

There are various old wives tales surrounding snoring which include sewing tennis balls on the back of a pyjama jacket. As snoring tends to occur when someone sleeps on their back, doing this will stop them snoring.

But on a serious note, there can be medical reasons for snoring which include a condition called ‘sleep apnoea’.

Sleep apnoea is when the muscles of the throat relax to the extent that they close during sleep. The airways narrow which reduces the amount of air in the lungs. The sleeper is breathing through these narrow airways which vibrate as he/she does so and the end result is snoring. If they stop breathing for 10 seconds or more then it is diagnosed as sleep apnoea.

Snoring can be treated by making a few lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol intake, changing your position when sleeping, losing weight and stopping smoking.

But someone who is diagnosed with sleep apnoea will experience some or all of the following side effects:

  • Severe headaches
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Snoring

The first step is the initial diagnosis. If you have a tendency to snore then there are a few things you can do to deal with this. These include the lifestyle changes mentioned above.

Anti-snoring devices

If you have sleep apnoea then your dentist can recommend an anti-snoring device. There are a range of devices to choose from which include a ‘Mandibular Advancement Device’ (MAD), an anti-snoring cushion and an ‘air blowing device’.

The mandibular advancement device is placed in the mouth to prevent the tongue and soft tissue of the throat from collapsing. It’s this collapse which causes the sleeper to stop breathing. This device holds the mandible (lower jaw) in a forward position which opens up the airways and prevents snoring.

This is a custom made device which fits over the upper and lower teeth and is designed to be as comfortable as possible.

The anti-snoring cushion is worn on the back which stops the sleeper from rolling onto their back and start snoring.

The air blowing device takes the form of a hose connected to the nose through which air is blown. This air enables the airways to stay open and so prevent snoring.

If none of this works then the only solution may be laser surgery to the jaw or throat. This is effective but is often seen as a last resort.

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