June 14, 2021 4 min read
Occasional snoring is common and usually nothing to worry about. Up to half of all adults and almost just as many children snore from time to time. But when habitual and when it starts to affect health and functioning, snoring becomes a problem — particularly if it starts at a young age. Here is why you may need to pay more attention to it.
Snoring is the harsh sound we make when tissues in the upper airway flutter during sleep. Nearly everyone snores from time to time due to a stuffy nose, sleep deprivation, or drinking alcohol, among other triggers. But when snoring becomes habitual, it could indicate an underlying problem:
While snoring is often a symptom of the above conditions, it can also be a problem in and of itself. Snoring is strongly associated with poor sleep quality, lower functioning, and a greater risk of coronary artery disease and depression.
Many people view snoring as an age-related problem, i.e. that it mostly concerns older adults. But snoring in children and young adults is also relatively common and shouldn’t be overlooked either
Research shows that persistent loud snoring in toddlers is associated with behavioral problems, like inattention, hyperactivity, and depression. In this age group, tobacco smoke, allergies, and not having been breastfed seem to be risk factors.
Furthermore, a study of 70 children with primary snoring found that as much as a third had progressed to OSA over 4 years. The same could hold true for adolescents and young adults as studies often show snoring and sleep apnea become progressively worse over time.
The problem with letting snoring progress to where it interferes with breathing and sleep is that it can lead to future health problems down the line and become difficult to treat. The longer you let snoring interfere with breathing and sleep, the greater your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and poor mental health. That’s why it’s particularly concerning when persistent snoring starts at a young age.
To figure out if you or a loved one are experiencing problem snoring, ask yourself the following:
Do you snore at least three times a week?
Does your snoring affect other people?
Does your snoring wake you up frequently?
Do you feel tired and sleepy even after getting enough sleep?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, this could point to a snoring problem. Getting an official diagnosis from a licensed medical professional is the next step you need to take. As explained, snoring can be a result of many underlying problems, and knowing what exactly is behind snoring is the first step towards finding the right snoring solutions.
You may also consider taking the following measures:
Research shows that people with primary snoring (nonapneaic snorers) snore less when sleeping on the side than in the supine position.
Alcohol and other sedatives can worsen snoring in those who are prone to it, especially if taken before bedtime.
Air purifiers and humidifiers can help reduce snoring caused by allergies in both children and adults.
Also known as snoring mouthpieces, oral appliances include mandibular-advancement devices andtongue-stabilizing devices. These help reduce adult snoring by gently keeping the tongue in place.
The sooner you start addressing snoring as more than a nuance, the greater your chances of restorative sleep and, subsequent, greater-well being.
Resources:J.G. Park. Snoring.Encyclopedia of Sleep. Academic Press. 2013; 265-268doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-378610-4.00319-3.
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