Physiologically, humans are not born with a snore. Due to sleeping with the jaw open the muscle tissue around the mouth and throat are stretched beyond their intended range. Snoring can be associated with a person’s health condition and it can be used to diagnose sleep disorders. The more common sleep disorders are Obstructive Sleep Disorder (OSA), Insomnia, Restless Leg Syndrome and Narcolepsy.
OSA is the cessation of breathing during sleep. This is because the tongue or soft tissues of the throat or soft palate collapse onto the wall of the upper airway thereby blocking air from entering the lungs. When the person inhales, the pull on the tongue is harder which seals the airway. OSA episodes happen when the person awakens and creates tension in the tongue and throat tissue producing a distinctive snorting sound. OSA episodes could happen over several hundred times during sleep causing sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation then leads to many issues including loss of appetite, weight gain, increased diabetes risk, weaker immune system, increased heart rate or variability, impairment of memory and physical performance, hallucinations and mood swings to name a few. People who suffer from OSA are also have a higher risk of developing depression and development or worsening of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Simply put, OSA can lead to impaired health condition and poor productivity.
OSA and snoring is fairly common among adults and in some children but many remains undiagnosed especially in its mild stage. For those with diagnosed OSA conditions, many treatment options are available in the market. The effects of which can treat mild to severe OSA. Below are some of the treatment options that could be recommended by your doctor. The figure preceding the list is taken from the American Sleep Apnea Association (http://www.sleepapnea.org) and illustrates the value of the treatment options. Darker shades mean more valuable.
Sleep apnea and snoring is most common in obese patients. This is because gaining weight, especially around the neck, squeezes the internal diameter of the throat making it more likely to collapse during sleep. Although few formal studies have been conducted to correlate obesity to snoring and apnea, many medical practitioners report improved in both OSA and snoring after a patient has lost weight.
Nasal decongestants are used to open the nasal passages in cases when snoring originates from the nose to allow air to move through slower. When the nose is clogged or narrowed, the fast moving air is most likely to produce snoring. Decongestants are more likely to be effective in cases of snoring or mild sleep apnea. If nasal decongestants do not work, surgery may be recommended.
Many nasal decongestants are available over the counter. The patient may also use a neti pot to rinse out nasal passages. Nasal strips are also available to lift nasal passages to open them up.
Positional therapy is best recommended for patients who snore and/or suffer from sleep apnea when sleeping on their back. The Rematee anti snore product portfolio falls into this category and induces patients to sleep on their side. This is also effective for mild sleep apnea.
Head and leg pillows can also be used especially those that help align the airways to prevent snoring.
Surgery is often effective in treating snoring but is less effective in treatment of sleep apnea. However, this is costly and would require more tests for the surgeon to identify which part of the airway is causing obstruction to the flow. Re-assessment after surgery also has to be done to ensure success of the operation. This adds to the cost associated with this treatment.
For children, removal of the tonsils or adenoids is done. These procedures are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the choice for treatment of sleep breathing problems in children.
The Good Morning Snore Solution® falls under the category of oral appliances. Resembling the athletic mouth guard, the appliance is worn over the mouth during sleep and most work by positioning the lower jaw forward to its usual rest position. For most people, this change is enough to keep the airway open during sleep.
This mode of treatment is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea though routine assessment is still advised.
Breathing Mask or Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Devices
Breathing masks or PAPs are the most widely used treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. The mask supplies pressurized air that flow’s continuously or intermittently into the sleeper’s throat thereby preventing airway collapse. There are several types of positive airway pressure devices, the most common of which is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device.
Studies of the effect of PAP therapy show that OSA patients who consistently use their machines feel better and encounter fewer complications of the disease. PAPs also eliminate snoring in addition to treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Though widely used, reviews of PAPs from its users are mostly non-favorable due to its cost and the discomfort that patients experience when using the product. Though the apnea is treated, users still wake in the middle of sleep due to the discomfort they experience.
Treatment of OSA and snoring is imperative as it greatly affects our relationships and performance at work. However, before choosing your preferred treatment option, one must first consult there doctor for proper evaluation and diagnosis of the patient’s condition. There is also no single full proof treatment to OSA, thus a combination of two or more treatments may be recommended.
A review of one’s lifestyle is also important since treatment of sleep apnea will never be effective unless the person is living a healthy life. A healthy lifestyle could mean abstaining from alcohol especially before sleeping, altering the diet to prevent obesity, improved sleep hygiene and changing sleeping habits.