Martha Jefferson HealthWise--November 19th

Loud and frequent snoring can be more than just a nuisance to your partner. Snoring may indicate a serious health condition, and diminish your quality of life. Joining us today for Martha Jefferson Healthwise is Dr. Chris Winter, neurologist and sleep medicine advisor for Men's Health Magazine, to share information on why we snore, and how to help alleviate this condition.

First of all, why do some people snore?

Snoring is common. Almost half of adults snore at least occasionally. Snoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe, creating hoarse or harsh sounds. A variety of factors can lead to snoring, including your mouth anatomy, being overweight, alcohol consumption, chronic nasal congestion, and sleep apnea.

When is it time to seek medical advice about your snoring?

You may not be aware that you snore, but your bed partner likely is. Seeing your doctor about your snoring can help both of you. For you, snoring may indicate another health concern, such as obstructive sleep apnea, nasal obstruction or obesity. For your partner, your seeking medical advice about your snoring may result in more restful sleep.

If your child snores, ask your pediatrician about it, as children can also have obstructive sleep apnea. Nose and throat problems, such as enlarged tonsils, and obesity often cause snoring in children. Treating these conditions will help your child sleep better.

What solutions are available to help with one’s snoring?

Your doctor will likely first recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol close to bedtime and changing sleeping positions. If lifestyle changes don't eliminate snoring, your doctor may suggest oral appliances, a surgical procedure where your surgeon tightens and trims excess tissues, or a continuous positive airway pressure machine, which uses a small pump to force air through your airway. Your doctor may also refer you to an ear, nose and throat doctor or sleep specialist for additional studies and evaluation. This may require that you stay overnight at a sleep center to undergo an in-depth analysis of your sleep habits by a team of specialists. Martha Jefferson Hospital has a sleep center.

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