Snoring can not be cured but it can be controlled

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For the next few weeks I thought it would be good to raise a bit of awareness about up and coming events in the world of healthcare.

An interesting one that always gets a lot of attention is National Stop Snoring Week.

It always catches the attention of many people – particularly those with male partners who snore.

But you would be surprised at how often we get people coming in to the pharmacy where I work looking for a cure for female partners who snore – not that many of us women would admit to it!

This year’s awareness week will run from May 9 until May 13.

It helps to raise awareness about the different types of snoring and how to combat them.

Anyone who does snore should certainly not feel alone. For example, did you know that there are approximately 15 million snorers in the UK? That is more than 40 per cent of the UK adult population!

So, many of us snore but how much do we actually know about this common problem?

Snoring is a sound caused by the vibrations of the tissue in the mouth, nose and upper airway when air enters the system whilst breathing.

It is often worse at night as we have reduced muscle tone while we sleep and this means partial blockages become floppier and more prominent.

Snoring can not be ‘cured’ or stopped but it can be controlled.

Firstly, however, it is important to find out the cause.

Snoring is usually due to a physical feature. These could include the following:

n Fat deposits around the neck or the well-known ‘double chin’

n A weak chin that causes obstruction at the back of the tongue

n Nasal congestion and catarrh

n Small nostrils, or collapsing nostrils

n Nasal polyps

n A large soft palate in the mouth

n A deviated septum

Have you ever wondered why you snore more – or why the only time you do snore – is after you’ve consumed alcohol? This is definitely no myth.

The reason for this is that alcohol is a depressant that can relax the muscles.

It is not specific to certain muscles and therefore it relaxes the oropharynx causing it to collapse.

Alcohol also reduces the speed at which we react – this will reduce the speed at which muscles contract to create muscle tone, increasing the chances of snoring.

Finally, it can irritate the nasal passageways to which the body will respond by producing mucus and increasing congestion which will promote airway resistance when breathing, hence snoring.

This doesn’t mean that you have to stop snoring altogether. However if you have your last alcoholic drink four hours before you go to bed then your body can help clear the alcohol and reduce its affect allowing a snore-free night. And hey, it beats having the horrendous hangover!

Smoking also increases your chances of snoring.

The contents of cigarette smoke can burn the hairs in the nasal passage that would normally help move excess catarrh and mucus up and out the body.

This means the catarrh collects and causes congestion and obstruction. The smoke can also irritate the linings of the airways causing inflammation and again cause a narrowing of the airways, so air has to ‘squeeze’ in and out of the body creating a ‘whistle effect’.

Other contributory factors can include being overweight, the position in which you sleep, allergies, congestion and general nasal stuffiness.