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So, What is Snoring Actually?

There’s a good chance that you or your partner snore. Indeed, according to studies 4 in 10 men snore and 3 in 10 women. Essentially, this means that, at any time, 25% of people in the world are habitual snorers. Of course, for some this condition is more of an issue than for others. Snoring can be so loud that it can wake you up in the night and disturb your sleep pattern. It can also be the symptom or sign of a more serious condition. That’s why it’s so important to get to grips with what snoring is, why it happens and what treatment options are available.

Why Does Snoring Happen?

Snoring is caused by structures within the respiratory system vibrating. When the air movement is obstructed, this results in the sound that we associate with snoring. In some cases it can be quite soft however in others it can be loud and severe enough to cause issues. Indeed, snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea which can cause increased irritability, mood swings, low energy levels, fatigue,  and lowered libido. For more severe sleep apnea,  patients can be at risk of  heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. According to some studies, loud snoring increases the chance of a heart attack by 34% and a stroke by 67%.

So what are the causes of snoring? Well, there are a variety causes. Dr. Pasha will examine the entire upper airway from the tip of your nose to the deeper aspects of your throat. Any part of this pathway from nasal obstruction to the tongue base may completely or partially collapse when breathing at night  causing the snore.Those who are overweight are far more likely to snore. The weight may build in and around the throat which can be enough to block the airways.

The throat could also be weak which will cause the throat to close while you are asleep. If you are suffering from this condition the soft tissue will fall to the back of the throat which temporarily stops the air from getting through. This condition can be quite alarming for those sleeping next to you as breathing can stop for minutes rather than seconds in some cases.

As well as medical conditions, you might be snoring due to your sleep environment. For instance, if you sleep on your back, you could be more likely to snore. That’s because the tongue slips to the back of the mouth, once again blocking the airways.

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Alternatively, it could be due to certain lifestyle choices. Both alcohol and a variety of drugs cause the throat muscles to relax. This in turn can trigger the issue we see when people snore. As such, it is one of the reasons why you may start snoring only when you drink.

Why Might You Start To Snore?

If you have recently started snoring, then it’s likely a physical change to your body that has caused it. This could be anything. As mentioned before, obesity can cause snoring so if you have suddenly put on a lot of weight, this could be a factor. Alternatively, it’s possible that an injury has knocked your jaw out of alignment. This particular problem can usually be fixed with surgery. Snoring can also be temporary such as when you have a cold or the flu. During this time, it’s likely that the airway has been obstructed triggering this particular symptom. Allergies may have a similar result.

Interestingly, sleep deprivation can also mean that snoring is worse for you. So, while it can be a symptom of snoring it can also be a cause. If you are sleep deprived, it’s possible that your airways relax more and this will trigger your throat to close.

Can Snoring Be Treated?

Of course!!!

We discuss the 5 ways we address snoring and sleep apnea here.

Observation. Observation may be an option if the snoring does not bother you or anyone else or you don’t have significant sleep apnea. An advantage to addressing your snoring early is that typically, as you advance in age, the laxity or sagginess of the back of your throat increases which worsens your snoring and often leads to sleep apnea.

Behavior Modification. This includes a weight loss program, in which it’s preferable avoiding sedatives and alcohol at night, sleeping on your side, and developing better sleep habits. All sleep apneic patients must try to reach their ideal weight. Weight loss is difficult when you have sleep apnea because you are tired and your metabolism is slowed. Addressing your sleep apnea typically results in weight loss. Dr. Pasha has a specific interest in nutrition and holistic medicine and in fact has an in-house dietitian to help his patients achieve their ideal weight. Alcohol and sedatives, including sleeping pills, are prohibited if you have significant sleep apnea to avoid suppressing your rescue gasp that allows you to catch your breath at night. If you are sedated, your oxygen may reach dangerously low levels, causing a heart attack or sudden death.

Breathing Machines: These machines are more commonly known as a Continuous or Constant Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine.

This apparatus prevents airway collapse by forcing air through your nose and mouth. CPAP machines have a high rate of success for those who use them. CPAP machines can be cumbersome, inconvenient, and may not be tolerated because of claustrophobia. Dr. Pasha prefers to use the “smart” machines so that he may read data remotely to see how you are doing with the machine at night. If you choose to use a CPAP machine, Dr. Pasha will help you stay compliant with your machine by monitoring your usage, adjusting your pressures, and adjusting your masks. Dr. Pasha may also perform minor procedures in the office or in the operating room so that you can better tolerate the machine or lower your pressures. Many times, sleep centers place everyone on CPAP machines without alternatives. CPAP machines do not address the underlying cause of the collapse of the airway at night.

In-Office and Surgical ProceduresDr. Pasha has performed well over 4,000 procedures for sleep apnea/snoring and considers it an art. After a detailed physical examination, Dr. Pasha may offer a long-term procedure specific for you. Philosophically, our center focuses on the least invasive technique with the most effective outcome. For some this may mean a 20-minute procedure that can be performed in the office under local anesthesia. For others it may require a more advanced surgical technique. Since Dr. Pasha has been focused on sleep apnea procedures since 2001, he has performed most available from the use of robotics to less invasive in-office procedures. Dr. Pasha also commonly evaluates those who had a prior failed procedure and specializes in revision techniques.

Dental or Oral Appliances. Dr. Pasha’s office has been delivering various generations of dental appliances to 1000’s of patients since 2005. He has a tremendous amount of experience determining who would be successful with an appliance as an alternative to a CPAP machine. Initially, Dr. Pasha would carve out the appliances by hand but know offers state-or-the-art digitally scanned 3D printed dental appliances.

Dr. Pasha checking a patient's nose during Great Day Houston's interview

FAQ’s: Allergies & Snoring

Dr. Pasha answers the most asked questions regarding allergies, sinuses, sleep apnea and snoring.

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woman with hands over her ears as her partner snores behind her in bed

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