Snoring is a sound in the form of noise caused by the collision of soft tissues at night due to the narrowing of the airway during sleep. Sleep apnea is a health problem in which snoring is more advanced and obstructive.
What are the Causes of Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
It is more common in overweight people, those with thick necks, and men.
Narrowing of the airway due to larger than normal nasal tissues such as uvula, tonsils and larynx
Losing the tension of the tissues and muscles in the nasal region and blocking the air passage by piling up in the throat in the lying position
Smaller than normal lower jaw and positioning behind
Consuming alcohol before sleep
Taking sedative medication before sleep
Eating a heavy meal before sleep
Sinusitis, nasal congestion, lying position during sleep
One or more of the factors listed above can cause snoring and sleep apnea.
What Health Problems Cause Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is perceived only as an annoying noise and its life-threatening risks are ignored. Especially in those with obstructive sleep apnea, breathing is interrupted at certain intervals during sleep. The increased frequency of these breathlessness can lead to life-threatening health problems. In those with sleep apnea, the oxygen level in the blood drops due to interruptions in breathing, which causes the heart to pump more blood. This can cause an enlarged heart, congestive heart failure, hardening of the arteries, and high blood pressure.
During sleep, especially in the supine position, the airway narrows as the tongue slides back and the muscles relax. In people with sleep apnea, breathing is temporarily interrupted due to complete obstruction of the airway. When the oxygen level in the blood drops, the person’s depth of sleep decreases and the airway opens again. As the frequency of these apneas increases, the person cannot fall into a deep sleep and wake up rested in the morning. In the deep phase of sleep, called REM sleep, the brain analyzes and combines what we do during the day. Those with sleep apnea cannot sleep at this stage, so they may encounter problems such as forgetfulness, distraction, and concentration disorder. At the same time, the body secretes enzymes and hormones that heal wounds and support immunity during this phase of sleep. Inability to sleep in REM sleep can therefore lead to serious health problems. Those who have sleep apnea problems may encounter many other situations such as drowsiness, concentration disorder, distraction, irritability, and sexual reluctance during the day. Therefore, it is important to treat and take precautions.
How to Treat Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
Making some adjustments in the lifestyle of the patient will help a lot in the treatment of snoring and apnea. It will be beneficial to follow the recommendations such as losing excess weight, treating systemic diseases, if any, stopping the intake of alcohol and sedative drugs 3-4 hours before going to bed, and taking care not to lie on your back. Apart from this, snoring and apnea treatments are generally performed in 3 ways. These:
It is the simplest, safest, comfortable and inexpensive way to treat snoring. For the construction of the snoring prosthesis, your dentist takes measurements from your lower and upper jaws. Then, after taking some measurements, it will deliver your prosthesis within a few days. The appliance is applied by attaching it to your lower and upper teeth. It is used only during sleep. It is quite easy to use compared to its counterparts. The patient can sleep comfortably while the prosthesis is in his mouth.
It is easy to carry with you and can be taken with you on travels. The success rate is quite high and it is economical. The mechanism of action of the snoring prosthesis; It is based on the principle that the prosthesis, which fits on the lower and upper jaws, keeps the airway open during sleep by bringing the lower jaw down and forward. Since the prosthesis is specially prepared, the patient does not experience snoring and sleep apnea blockages during sleep.
It is a device consisting of a mask and a tube that is worn on the face. Its working principle is to detect the obstruction that occurs during apnea and to open the airway by giving compressed air from the mouth or nose. Thanks to the sensors inside, the airway pressure is kept constant. Millions of apnea patients around the world use these devices. However, these devices are very difficult to use. The mask and hose worn on the face may disturb the person during sleep. Compressed air from the device can wake the person from sleep frequently. Irritation and allergic reactions may occur in the area where the mask is worn. It is a difficult device to carry around due to its large size.
3- Surgical Applications:
Too much tissue in the nasal passages can cause narrowing of the airway and snoring. In this case, that tissue may need to be surgically removed. However, there may be some situations where surgery is not possible and carries risks. However, surgery cannot provide a definitive solution in all cases. This method, which was frequently used for the treatment of snoring and apnea in the past, has now begun to be abandoned. Because the main factor that causes snoring is mostly the big tongue. The large tongue contains vital vessels and nerves, so there is no intervention in the large tongue due to snoring.
Surgical applications are mostly performed on the uvula and soft palate. However, these operations can often recur after a short time and are not useful enough. In addition, the fact that the healing process is painful and causes some complications such as the coming from the nose of the food causes it not to be preferred by the patients as much as before.