What is rhoncopathy?
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are disorders characterized by the temporary occlusion of the upper airway, at the level of the pharynx, during the hours of rest. As a result, a snoring sound is produced, causing sleep, fatigue and breathing problems, as well as other related problems.
Symptoms of snoring
The best known manifestation of this problem is snoring, but in more severe cases breathing can stop (apnea) for more than 10 seconds, causing episodes of interrupted sleep throughout the night. These episodes cause oxygen deficiency in the brain, which increases the risk of cardiovascular problems, diabetes or stroke. The affected person may also suffer from drowsiness, generalized tiredness or depression, and may have reduced concentration and professional and personal performance.
What are the causes of snoring?
The most common causes of hoarseness and apnea are obesity, nasal obstructions (polyps, deviated septum), an overly large soft palate and hypothyroidism, among others. The common denominator in all situations is the fact that there is a permanent or functional narrowing, which may originate at various levels of the upper airway, producing an intense vibration on the walls of the pharynx, which transforms it into the sound we perceive as snoring.
Can it be prevented?
It is difficult to prevent snoring but measures can be taken to improve it. Thus:
- Snoring is made worse by sleeping on the back, so sleep in that position should be avoided.
- Dry air can irritate and inflame the nasal mucosa. A humidifier may be helpful.
- Some foods contain allergens that cause reactions and may contribute to airway narrowing. It would be convenient to identify them and study possible allergies.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages in the evening, as alcohol causes relaxation of the pharyngeal musculature, causing the air to vibrate as it passes through, resulting in snoring.
- Certain sleep medications worsen snoring and the severity of sleep apnea.
- Tobacco dries out and inflames the mucous membranes, so it is strongly discouraged.
- It may be helpful to elevate the head of the bed or use more than one pillow. – Surgery may be an alternative, especially in cases of anatomical anomalies.
What is the treatment?
Treatment can be based on weight loss, modification of lifestyle habits, giving up tobacco and alcohol… Also the use of a nasal mask that supplies air under pressure controlled by a mechanical device (CPAP), and surgery.
Specifically, surgery can be useful in anatomical anomalies, such as nasal septum deviation or thickening of the uvula and soft palate. For years there have been non-invasive surgical techniques that are performed under local anesthesia, with rapid postoperative recovery. Likewise, mandibular advancement devices are a non-invasive alternative. They are a kind of “dental caps” that are used while the patient sleeps, advancing the mandible with respect to the upper jaw, thus widening the retrolingual area. Thus, they make snoring and apneas disappear, being easy to use and with an easy adaptation process.