When Should I See A Doctor For Snoring?
What is Snoring?
Snoring is a common problem that affects millions of Americans. Almost everyone has snored at one time or another whether or not they snore habitually – and the odds of snoring can increase with age or rise temporarily with certain health conditions.
Snoring is the sound made during sleep as a result of obstructed air movement. It is caused by the vibration of various respiratory structures. It is a hoarse or harsh sound that gets louder when more air passes across the relaxed soft tissue in the throat, resulting in vibrations.
In some cases, snoring may be soft. However, many people complain that their snoring is too loud – so loud that they may notice it during brief periods of wakefulness. Rarely, the sound may be so intense as to wake the sufferer up, at least for a short span of time.
Many people snore without realizing it and might snore every night.
In situations like this, the first time someone is aware of snoring might be when they are told about it by a bedroom partner. The condition might persist for months or even years without the sufferer’s knowledge, and could be a symptom of more serious issues.
What Causes It?
Snoring can be caused by any form of obstruction in the airway during sleep.
Because so many different conditions might contribute to snoring, it is important to get the root cause diagnosed once you find out about it. A structural issue in the airway may lead to long-term snoring that will not subside without medical intervention.
Other situations that cause temporary snoring include things like inhibited air flow caused by respiratory infections or allergic reactions. When these issues are in play, then the snoring will generally end as soon as the underlying cause goes away.
Lifestyle factors can contribute to snoring, and might support the emergence of chronic snoring:
- Alcohol use can cause snoring by making the muscles of the airway too relaxed.
- Obesity may restrict air flow and narrow airways by placing weight on airways.
- Smoking can lead to inflammation of air passages, inducing them to constrict.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Ideally, you should see a doctor as soon as symptoms develop. However, since many people snore, it may be difficult to know if there is a bigger issue at play. To clear things up, physicians recognize three distinct grades of snoring:
- Grade 1: Also called simple snoring, this is relatively soft snoring that happens rarely.
- Grade 2: This classification describes people who snore around 50% of the time.
- Grade 3: This indicates severe snoring that inhibits breathing and can be widely heard.
Snoring can begin to present a problem at Grade 2, as it may produce mild to moderate difficulty on the ability to breathe while sleeping. This presents a moderate risk of long-term complications and can lead to daytime fatigue. This daytime drowsiness can be dangerous on its own.
However, those who learn they suffer from Grade 3 snoring should see a doctor promptly.
Grade 3 snoring is frequently indicative of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious condition that takes place when soft tissue in the mouth or throat blocks the airway for a significant time. Those with obstructive sleep apnea may have multiple blockage episodes of ten seconds or more nightly.
This places a great physiological strain on the patient and results in an immediate reduction in sleep quality several times throughout the night. The inability to sleep fully and deeply means that the patient is at much greater risk of additional problems.
Eos Sleep Diagnostics can help. To learn more, contact us.