A snoring person is someone who is treated with ridicule or is considered a nuisance while travelling or in the house. The sound produced while snoring is often unbearable even to the immediate family members and he or she may often feel ostracised by the family and community.Unfortunately studies show that the incidence of snoring is rising all over the world . Unhealthy life styles like lack of exercise due to long working hours and availability of junk food has given rise to increasing obesity . This in turn causes fat deposition all over the body as well as around the neck .
Snoring is actually denoting that the person has an airway collapse during sleep . The airway gets narrow due to fat deposition around the neck. During sleep , when muscles relax , the passage gets occluded (apnea). This keeps repeating throughout the night in cycles .This condition occurring during sleep is called obstructive sleep apnoea . As this happens ,over the years ,the body starts to show the deleterious consequences of reduced oxygenation . Often the first sign will be an increase in cholesterol levels . This is because the vibration caused by snoring affects the major blood vessels in the neck .Often there will be a gradual increase in BP needing one or two medications for control. Elevation in blood sugar levels causing diabetes also can be seen . Studies also show that there is higher incidence of heart attacks as well as stroke in such patients. Unfortunately most people do not realise that snoring is the main causative factor for all these complications
The main symptoms other than snoring will be awakening with choking attacks , excessive sleepiness throughout the day. (Falling asleep while at the wheel or during meetings .) Tiredness despite sleeping at night , morning headaches , forgetfulness as well as loss of concentration. Even depression , loss of libido may be seen. That snoring can cause all these problems is something most people are not even aware about as they feel it is a sign of sound sleep.
Studies show that about 7-8% of the Indian population have sleep apnoea. However this may be only the tip of the iceberg as snoring is still not widely understood to be a health hazard.
Testing for sleep apnoea is important especially if a person is snoring for more than three days in a week. Also anyone having medication for blood pressure which is not coming under control or having cardiac arrhythmias should be investigated for sleep apnoea. The definitive test is a sleep study which can be done overnight at the hospital or home.This will show how many times a person’s breath stops in an hour as well as the depth to which oxygen saturation falls.
Since most patients of sleep apnoea have high BMI this has to be corrected by weight management measures like diet , exercise and regulated food intake .
Nasal block causing symptoms have to be corrected. However just treating the nose block will not cure snoring which is the commonly held belief. Treating the nose is pivotal to sleep apnoea but it is not the primary factor for obstruction.
CPAP and surgical correction of the block are the most commonly used techniques to clear the sleep apnoea. Some people especially with a small jaw may also need what is called an oral device to keep the airway open.Sleep surgery addresses the areas of obstruction like the throat or the base of tongue or the epiglottis and clears the obstruction without in any way affecting speech or swallowing.
Newer techniques like Coblation have helped sleep surgeries a lot as the technique is less painful and less chances of post operative swelling.Thus the post operative recovery is faster and smoother.