While the conversation “you snore, not me” can be heard across the country, snoring is no laughing matter. Snoring is caused by the collapse of the soft tissues at the back of the throat during sleep. This results in that familiar, reverberating sound. Generally snoring is more common among those between 40 and 60, although people of any age can be affected. Health professionals estimate that around 40 per cent of the population suffer from snoring and recognise three ‘grades’ of the condition. Although common, snoring is often not considered serious by its sufferers – many are acutely embarrassed by it. However, snoring can lead to serious health issues, both physical and emotional. In addition to disturbed sleep – often for the snorer and their partner – snoring can lead to tiredness during the day and lack of concentration. This in turn can have far reaching and potentially dangerous effects.
The Types of Snoring
The three grades of snoring recognised by UK health professionals are:
- Simple snoring; this is the mildest type and is characterised by low sound levels and infrequent snoring. Normally breathing and sleep remain largely unaffected by this type of snoring and it may only occur occasionally. Generally this type of snoring will not cause major health problems; however, it can lead to difficulties between couples which should not be ignored.
- The second type of snoring is generally classified as moderate. Snoring will occur more frequently in this case, normally on several occasions throughout the week. It is likely to affect the quality of sleep you experience which can leave you feeling drained and tired the next day. Some minor breathing difficulties during sleep are also likely to occur, which again disturbs the sufferer.
- The most serious level of snoring is grade three; this type of snoring will take place every night and is audible beyond the individual’s own room. Sleep Apnoea, commonly confused with snoring, can also occur in these cases. Apnoea is the blockage of the airway for more than 10 seconds. This category of snoring can lead to a range of issues which include disrupted sleep, tiredness and serious marital problems.
Causes and Effects
Snoring is more common amongst men than women and although prevalent in those over 40 it can affect people from childhood, or at any stage in their lives. The most common factors that can influence snoring include; obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking. In many cases, particularly less serious cases, lifestyle changes can be enough to reduce the level of snoring.
Snoring is known to contribute to increased risks levels of strokes or heart disease, in the longer term. Short term effects include excessive tiredness and emotional problems. Tiredness will affect a number of areas of your life, including work and it has been closely linked to road accidents. Your ability to drive will be affected by tiredness, whatever the cause, but those who suffer from serious snoring conditions are believed to be most at risk.
What are the Treatments?
There are a number of proven, effective methods to reduce or eliminate snoring. These include strips or guards that can be fitted to the mouth or nose. For those with the most severe cases of snoring a “stop snoring device” can be highly effective. In the longer term medical advice is usually aimed at lifestyle changes – losing weight or stopping drinking or smoking. A stop snoring device can be a useful tool to help in the meantime to improve the quality of sleep and relationships.
Normally surgery for snoring is not considered appropriate as it is not proven to be completely successful and may have side-effects. Never trivialise a snoring problem, or think that you should not see the doctor. A doctor will always take snoring seriously – whether it is affecting you physically or causing relationship problems. It is also important to understand that in the vast majority of cases, this common complaint can easily be alleviated.
Snoring can have serious medical implications – both physical and emotional. Believed to affect around 40 per cent of the population it is an often overlooked condition. Treatments, such as a stop snoring device, are readily available to help reduce snoring and combat its effects.