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How to Stop Snoring

Snoring is defined as noisy breathing that occurs while sleeping, and many patients wonder about how to stop snoring. Snoring is a common problem that affects nearly 90 million American adults. Of those affected, 37 million snore on a regular basis.

Snoring occurs at all ages and both men and women can be affected. During sleep your tongue falls backward, your throat muscles relax, and your throat becomes narrow. The walls of the throat begin to vibrate as you breathe, which causes the sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes during sleep, the louder you snore.

There are some modifications that you can make to try and prevent snoring, and also some signs that indicate that you should see an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Remove Allergens

If you are an allergy sufferer, some common irritants that may contribute to your snoring include pet dander, dust, and dust mites. It is recommended that you dust bedroom surfaces and ceiling fans frequently and keep your pet out of your bedroom. To decrease exposure to dust mites, you should replace your pillow every six months and put it in the dryer on the air fluff cycle every couple of weeks.

Change Sleeping Position

Part of figuring out how to stop snoring involves evaluating your sleeping position. If you sleep on your back, your chances for snoring are increased, as this makes the base of your tongue and soft palate fall to the back of your throat. Invest in a body pillow, as these can help you maintain a side sleeping position.

Establish a Routine

It is recommended to go to bed and wake up the same time every day to be sure you get adequate rest. When you have poor sleep habits, you can become overtired. When this happens you fall into a deeper sleep, which can overly relax the muscles in the back of your throat and result in snoring.

Open Nasal Passages

Another aspect of learning how to stop snoring is considering how you breathe at night. If you are a nose breather, then it's likely the snoring begins in your nose. If your nose is narrowed or clogged related to a blockage, such as from a cold, this causes your air to flow faster and makes you more likely to snore. The following interventions can keep your nasal passages clear:

  • A hot shower before going to bed
  • Nasal strips can lift nasal passages, allowing them to open up
  • Clear nasal passages by using a humidifier or over-the-counter saline spray

Stay Adequately Hydrated

When you are dehydrated, this makes the secretions in your soft palate and nose become stickier, which can lead to snoring. Be sure you have adequate fluid intake.

Lose Weight

If you have had recent weight gain and have begun snoring since, this may be a natural solution to how to stop snoring. Excess fat in your neck area can squeeze around your throat, making it more likely to collapse as you sleep. If you want to learn how to stop snoring, talk to your doctor about a healthy weight loss approach.

Avoid Alcohol & Sedatives

Alcohol is a potent muscle relaxant. Both alcohol and sedatives can depress your central nervous system, relaxing the muscles of your jaw and throat. When those areas are relaxed, your tongue may relax as a result, blocking the airway. This makes you more likely to snore. It is recommended to avoid alcohol consumption four to five hours before going to bed.

Stop Smoking

Research studies have concluded that smoking is a major contributor to snoring. Smoking causes inflammation and irritation of the upper airway, which is believed to result in snoring.

When to See a Doctor

For some, snoring may not cause any negative effects and you can continue learning about how to stop snoring with lifestyle modifications. However, those who snore may have an underlying condition such as sleep apnea. You should see a physician in the following circumstances:

  • You feel sleepy or tired during the day
  • Your snoring is affecting your relationship or the sleep of your partner
  • You wake up gasping during the night
  • Your partner reports that you stop breathing during the night

To make a diagnosis, your physician will review your medical history, your signs and symptoms, and perform a physical examination. Additional testing that may be ordered to help confirm a diagnosis includes an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI to assess the structure of your airway.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, common treatments include the following:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
  • Oral appliances
  • Palatal implants
  • Traditional or laser surgery
  • Radiofrequency tissue ablation

If you or a loved one is affected by snoring, an appointment should be scheduled with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist to develop an individualized plan for treatment.