Senior woman disturbed by man snoring

Snoring: Symptoms & Treatment

If you have been struggling with snoring, custom oral devices may be your best option to a peaceful night of sleep!

Let’s face it, snoring causes problems, health problems, and relationship problems. The good news is, in most cases, snoring can be easily treated with custom dental devices.

To get started, let’s review what snoring is, what it may be a sign of and how and where to best get treatment.

What Most People Don’t Know About Snoring

Snoring is often a symptom of a more serious sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Left untreated or treated inadequately, apnea can lead to severe health problems and a lowered quality of life.

It’s important to note that many individuals with apnea, even severe apnea, barely experience any quality of life symptoms and feel there is nothing “wrong” during their sleep. Most apnea individuals do snore, however. But not all snorers have apnea.

Let’s go over some basics between normal breathing, snoring and the more serious condition of apnea.

Normal Breathing – No Snoring

During normal sleep breathing, the airway remains open and unobstructed. Although the jaw and base of the tongue drop back slightly, air freely flows through the throat and into the lungs. Without an obstruction, snoring does not occur and adequate oxygen flows.

Progression of sleep breathing disorders

What is Snoring?

During snoring…

  • Muscles and soft tissue in the back of the throat relax narrowing the airway. While a breath is being taken, air is forced through the narrowed passage causing vibrations of the soft tissues known as snoring.
  • In some individuals, these vibrations or snoring sounds can self awaken the person snoring.  In other situations the snoring individual may feel they are sleeping well, but disruptions to bed partners may result. These disruptions can not only cause havoc and relationship strains, but research has shown the health of a snorer’s bed partner can be impacted.
  • Some individuals develop Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS).  These individuals often snore, do not have apnea but feel tired or have symptoms similar to some apnea patients.

What is the difference between snoring and OSA?

During OSA, the airway obstruction has progressed to limited breathing airflow resulting  in oxygen dips in the blood and organs. These repeated breathing dips that are associated with partially or fully blocked airways can create major disruptions to health and well-being.

Oxygen depriving  events can occur dozens or hundreds of times during a night of sleep and can easily go undetected.

Obstructive sleep apnea is quite a complex condition.  Some sleep apnea patients have many symptoms like daytime sleepiness, poor unrestful sleep, morning headaches, while others have none of these symptoms but snore.

The amount or severity of symptoms does NOT necessarily reflect the level of apnea severity.

If a snoring individual has apnea and it’s left untreated, serious medical conditions can arise. Additionally, untreated apnea can lead to a decreased quality of life, and even death.

Untreated OSA can lead to high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), excessive tiredness during the day and lack of concentration efforts.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea in addition to my snoring? Where do I start?

Even though snoring and OSA can both be treated with dental devices, start with a medical assessment.

Because of the dangerous effects of untreated apnea, it is important to get medically evaluated before any treatment.  There may also be other medical conditions that can lead to chronic snoring other than OSA.  Other conditions that may cause snoring include:

  • Seasonal Allergies
  • Hormonal
  • Neurological as in multiple sclerosis
  • Infectious as in Lyme Disease
  • Rheumatological as in chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
  • Food or environmental
  • Vitamin deficiencies

A thorough medical evaluation can help decipher the cause of the snoring and the best associated  treatment option.

A comprehensive medical evaluation by your primary care physician is usually the place to start. From here you may be referred to a certified sleep physician, an ENT or directly for a sleep test evaluation.

To understand better what kind of medical provider to seek out see What Kind of Physician Should I Seek to Find Out if I Have Apnea?

Sleep tests are the only way to give you a thorough diagnosis whether you have apnea, or “benign” snoring without apnea events.

There are several types of sleep-snoring evaluation processes to test if you have apnea:

  • An overnight stay at a sleep testing facility. This type of study is usually performed at a facility within a room that looks like a hotel room. A polysomnogram uses sensors to various parts of your body recording brain waves, heartbeat, breathing, and movements. It is considered the gold standard of sleep diagnosis.
  • A home sleep test unit used on sight in your home. Although not as detailed as a sleep lab test, this type of testing is being prescribed more commonly than in the past years.

Which test is prescribed may be determined by:

  • What other medical symptoms or conditions you may have
  • The preference/knowledge of the medical provider
  • Access to care
  • Insurance guidelines

After your medical evaluation of snoring

If you made it as far as being evaluated and tested, here are the most commonly prescribed treatment options (by trained sleep specialist physicians) should you be diagnosed with snoring —without apnea.

Snoring treatment options (but no apnea):

Oral Dental Devices

Oral Appliance Therapy (dental devices) is a very effective treatment for snoring.

If you know you do not have apnea and ready for a peaceful night of sleep with custom dental devices visit our oral devices page for information on how effective they are, how much they cost, and where to get started.

Points to be aware of at or after the snoring evaluation

Should you be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA),  it is quite common to be shuffled through a process assuming you will be getting an air breathing device. One such type of breathing device is called CPAP (Continuous Airway Positive Pressure Device).

In many circumstances all treatment options for apnea including oral dental devices are not discussed. A thorough consultation with a sleep physician after you are evaluated is wise.

CPAP therapy is effective for treating apnea

CPAP therapy is very effective for treating apnea. However, many patients find it very difficult to ‘live with’ and many simply ‘give up’ with treatment.

Knowing all treatment options for snoring and apnea before going in for a sleep evaluation can often save a patient many months, and even years of difficult efforts.

Should you be diagnosed with OSA: Visit our apnea page for general info and treatment options

Ready for an oral (dental) device to treat your snoring?

Ready for an oral-dental device to help eliminate or reduce your snoring and establish peaceful sleep? Read our oral device page for your next steps and commonly asked questions on oral appliance therapy.

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This article is general in nature and for educational purposes only. Please consult with your sleep health provider before starting any treatment option for snoring and apnea.