Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How Does Snoring Occur?

Snoring occurs when the air passages at the back of the mouth and nose do not have a free flow of air. Obstruction of the airways usually occurs when the soft tissues in that area collapse during sleep, causing the tongue to meet briefly with the soft palate (top part of your mouth in the back) and the uvula (the hanging bell-shaped tissue in the back of your throat). The vibrations are what cause the actual sound of snoring.

Snorers may also suffer from:

• Poor oral muscle tone. Relaxed tongue and throat muscles can cut off airflow. Deep sleep, alcohol and sleep medications can contribute to poor muscle tone.
• Large tonsils and adenoids. Excess throat tissue can cause snoring. Being overweight can cause excess neck tissue, which is why snoring is more common in overweight individuals.
• Long uvula and/or soft palate. Individuals with a long palate have a narrower opening between the nose and throat that can create noise during the relaxed breathing of deep sleep. A longer than normal uvula worsens the situation.
• Nasal airway obstruction. Stuffy noses do not have a free flow of air. The extra effort it takes to breathe through a stuffed up nose creates a strong pull on floppy throat tissues, causing a snoring sound. That is why some people experience snoring only during hay fever attacks, a cold or a sinus infection.
• Nose or nasal septum deformities, such as a deviated septum, can cause obstruction.

To learn more about snoring and sleep apnea, please contact Gurnee, Illinois dentist and sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Ira L. Shapira today to schedule your initial consultation.

posted by Lynn at 8:02 AM