It’s estimated that 28% of women and 44% of men snore. For some, it merely annoys their housemates, but for others, it’s the sign of a serious health problem called sleep apnea. As a specialist in sleep medicine, Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., MD, is uniquely qualified to evaluate your snoring, diagnose whether it’s sleep apnea, and provide treatment that relieves the problem and lets you and your housemates get a good night’s sleep. To schedule an appointment, use online booking or call the office in Las Vegas.
When you fall asleep, the muscles in your mouth and throat relax. As a result, the tissues in your throat loosen and your tongue falls slightly backward, allowing it to partially cover the airway at the back of your throat. Every time you breathe in, you pull air over these tissues, which makes them vibrate. These vibrations produce snoring.
The narrower the airway becomes, the more pressure is needed to make air flow through the opening. Your snoring gets increasingly louder as the airway narrows.
Yes, there are several conditions that cause or worsen snoring, including:
Drinking alcohol before you sleep also makes you more likely to snore.
Loud snoring is the primary symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The reason the two go hand in hand is because OSA develops from the same problem that causes snoring.
When your tongue and soft tissues relax, they can completely cover the airway. At that moment, you can’t take in air and your breathing stops. Before long, your brain nudges you awake just enough to breathe again.
When you have sleep apnea, you can stop breathing 5-30 times every hour, depending on the severity of your apnea. Every time you stop breathing, the temporary loss of oxygen and the pressure that builds in your chest triggers a sequence of events that can cause high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
You may be able to reduce your snoring by losing weight, sleeping on your side, or raising the head of your bed about 4-6 inches. If your breathing is affected by nasal congestion or a problem in your nose like polyps, you may relieve your snoring by having those problems treated.
For more serious snoring — and especially if you have sleep apnea — Dr. Willoughby prescribes continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or an oral appliance. CPAP keeps your airway open by blowing a stream of pressurized air into the airway. An oral appliance pushes your jaw and tongue forward, preventing the tongue from covering your airway while you sleep.
To get relief from snoring and to receive a thorough assessment for sleep apnea, schedule an appointment online or call Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., MD.