Many snorers can be helped by a variety of treatements – you may have to keep working at it, but the benefits can outweigh the effort involved.
Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, giving up smoking and cutting down on alcohol are usually recommended first. Taking regular exercise can also help.
This is an important start, particularly if you have a large amount of fat around your neck. People with a neck circumference of more than 43cm (17 inches) often snore.
Losing weight can be as simple as following a diet sheet or joining a weight-loss club. Exercise can help, taken during the day and not within the four hours before sleep. The motivation of experiencing sleep-filled nights, waking refreshed and having energy during the day should be enough – a new, slim you is a great bonus.
For the OSA sufferer who is morbidly or super obese (with a body mass index of 40 or more; 50 – 100% above the ideal body weight) bariatric surgery for weight loss can be the answer. This involves removing part of the stomach or installing a gastric band to reduce its size.
Although you might believe alcohol makes you sleepy in the short term, it can keep you awake during the night. Drinking shortly before you go to bed can make you snore because alcohol relaxes your muscles, so when you sleep your airways become flabby and flattened. Cutting drink down or out is one of the best cures for snoring.
Keep a drinks diary for a fortnight – focussing on your drinking habit may give you a surprise, and once you understand your drinking pattern it becomes much easier to change.
Try some tips to cut down; drink a pint of water before you start on alcohol, and don’t use alcohol to quench your thirst – have a soft drink instead; swap strong drinks for ones with a lower strength (ABV in % on the bottle label); use smaller glasses at home, and choose the smaller option when out.
Recreational drugs as well as medications such as sedatives and some types of antidepressants can have a similar effect on the muscles as alcohol and cause snoring – if you feel your medication may be contributing to your snoring, talk to your GP, who may be able to prescribe an alternative. However, never stop taking prescribed medication without first consulting your GP.
There are already so many good health reasons to give up smoking, but here is another: tobacco smoke can cause your airways to become inflamed and narrower and so make you snore.
If your snoring is not causing you health problems but is disturbing your partner, simply asking them to wear ear plugs during the night could be an effective way of solving the matter.
Try sleeping in a different position – people who sleep on their backs tend to snore more, and one old wife’s tale can work; to help to keep you off your back as you sleep stitch a pocket into the back of a top, between the shoulder blades, and put something small and bulky into it – it used to be a potato, but a tennis or golf ball will do!
If lifestyle changes don’t help, we can exclude important breathing problems and advise you about any useful anti-snoring devices on the market, such as mouth guards or nasal strips . These can be bought online or from most larger pharmacies. If obstructive Sleep Apnoea is the problem we can supply you with CPAP treatment to keep your airway open. This will usually treat snoring but is mainly aimed at improving daytime sleepiness.
There are four main types of surgery used in treating snoring, not usually available on the NHS; however, surgery is usually regarded as a treatment of last resort and is not suitable for certain conditions, such as nasal snoring, whilst using a breathing device or CPAP is generally more effective for sleep apnoea. Surgery can have a limited effect and may only last a couple of years. Surgery is not without risk and complications can occur.
In cases where large tonsils and adenoids contribute towards snoring, surgery to remove them can be very helpful.
Nasal surgery to open a blocked nose can help snoring when symptoms of a blocked nose are noticed daily.
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