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When is Snoring a Medical Problem?

Does your family poke fun at you for your snoring or does your bedmate complain that they can’t sleep because of the noise? Jokes and complaints aside, snoring can sometimes signal medical problems that require treatment.

To illustrate this point, Cecil Yeung, MD, and Marcus Hershey, MD here at Houston Sinus Surgery want to take a closer look at when snoring is no laughing matter.

What is snoring?

Snoring is incredibly common, and up to 45% of people snore sometimes, and 25% snore consistently.

The snoring itself is caused when something blocks your airways and air can’t pass easily through your mouth and nose. Depending upon the degree of the restriction, your snoring can range from a quiet whistle to loud rumbling and snorting that can be heard throughout the house.

There are many benign causes of snoring, such as:

  • Nasal congestion from a cold or allergy
  • Drinking too much alcohol during a night out
  • Pregnancy hormones

These situations are temporary, and the snoring that results from them usually isn’t a long-term problem. What we’re concerned with are ongoing issues with snoring that stem from more serious problems.

When snoring is a cause for concern

There are several conditions that cause snoring that we consider potentially problematic, including:

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea affects 22 million people in the United States and it’s a condition in which the soft tissues at the back of your throat collapse while you sleep. When this happens, your brain rouses you just enough to clear your airways again. Unfortunately, this collapsing and rousing cycle often happens frequently throughout the night, sometimes dozens of times an hour.

As a result, you’re not only losing restorative sleep, sleep apnea has also been connected to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

Obesity or being overweight

Another issue that can cause snoring is obesity or being overweight. Carrying extra weight can lead to an increase in fatty tissues that may block your airways. Like sleep apnea, these fatty tissues can disrupt your breathing throughout the night, which can lead to similar health complications as sleep apnea, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Anatomical issues

Your snoring can also be caused by anatomical issues inside your nose, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps. While polyps or a deviated septum aren’t typically serious medical issues on their own, if they’re disrupting your sleep, they could also be impacting your overall health and wellness.

This is because as long as these issues remain, your snoring will likely continue. And, as we mentioned earlier, having your breathing inhibited on a nightly basis can lead to numerous health issues.

Treatments for snoring

If we find that your snoring stems from a problematic medical issue, there are several ways in which we can approach your snoring and your health.

If your snoring is driven by sleep apnea, one of the most effective treatments is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. You wear the CPAP at night while you sleep, and the unit pushes air through your passageways, preventing them from collapsing. If you don't like the CPAP, we can try an oral appliance that positions your jaw and tongue in such a way that helps minimize snoring.

If your snoring is caused by lifestyle issues, such as carrying extra weight, drinking, or smoking, changes in your diet and ditching bad habits can go a long way toward improving your health and reducing your snoring.

If anatomical problems are preventing you from breathing easy when you sleep, we can address these issues through minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. Whether we’re removing polyps or correcting a deviated septum, these procedures can help you breathe easier and sleep better.

If you snore on a consistent basis, we can help. We’ll give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps. To learn more, call or book an appointment online with Houston Sinus Surgery today.

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