Snoring is a symptom of obstruction and, if associated with sleep apnea, can be a sign of a serious condition. The obstruction can be in the nose, including a deviated septum, large nasal turbinates (natural structures inside the nose), or allergic rhinitis. The obstruction could also be in the throat, caused by such things as large tonsils, a large tongue, or generalized obesity, all of which could lead to soft tissue obstruction.
Sleep apnea is defined as any pause in breathing for ten seconds or greater. A sleep study will determine whether or not the patient has apnea. Patients with apnea are placed into one of three categories – mild, moderate or severe – which will help determine the best treatment options. Everyone with sleep apnea snores but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
Once apnea is ruled out, here are some techniques to help reduce snoring:
1. Don’t eat close to bedtime. Allow at least three hours between dinner and bedtime.
2. Avoid alcohol at night.
3. Make sure your husband sleeps on his side or stomach. Sew a small rubber ball into the back of your husband’s nightshirt so that he is less likely to roll onto his back while sleeping.