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TOO-FREQUENT SNORING MAY BE A SIGN OF SLEEP APNEA

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Do you sound like you're sawing wood when you sleep? Do you keep others awake? In other words, are you a snorer?

The mechanics of snoring are simple; it occurs when air passing through the mouth and nose encounters some obstruction, causing soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth to vibrate.Millions of Americans suffer from chronic loud snoring. This is primarily a social problem, causing possible stress in relationships, and disrupting sleep and dream patterns.

There are many things that cause snoring, including: obesity, body position (lying on the back), use of sedatives, antihistamines and other medication, alcohol intake, advanced age, a deviated septum (the partition dividing the nose), nasal congestion, and enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

Most everyone has an occasional and temporary breathing obstruction during sleep. But if this happens more than 15 times during the night, there is reason to suspect a condition known as "sleep apnea" which can have serious consequences.

People suffering from sleep apnea may have obstructed airways for even up to several minutes.

There are treatments available for severe snoring. For example, you can elevate the head of the bed 4 to 6 inches, as well as avoiding alcohol, sedatives, and antihistamines in the evening.

To avoid sleeping on your back, sew a pocket into the back of your pajama top and put a tennis ball in the pocket.

Nasal stuffiness can be treated with the use of decongestants. While the decongestant tablets can be taken daily, decongestant nasal sprays should never be used more than three or four nights per week.

The definitive treatment for severe snoring or sleep apnea may be surgical removal of part of the soft tissues at the back of the throat.

This in-hospital procedure causes a marked reduction of snoring in 90 percent of the cases and a marked reduction in sleep apnea in 65 percent of patients.