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June 28, 2022
Did you know that, according to a Universidade de São Paulo survey carried out in the mid-2010s, more than half of Brazilians report snoring? Want more? Superinteressante magazine revealed in a report that nighttime noise is the third leading cause of divorce.
In the same report, the magazine tells the story of a lady whose snoring reaches 111 decibels. That’s more noise than a low-flying jet, which reaches approximately 103 decibels. Her husband, of course, was forced to sleep in another room.
But besides these trivia facts, snoring can be a warning sign that something is not right, and it is important to understand it.
Snoring is the noise produced during sleep, caused by a narrowing in the airways.
While we sleep, the airways are protected by different mechanisms whose objective is to avoid them getting obstructed. But for some people, all this ‘task force’ is not enough and the airflow finds it more difficult to flow as it has less space to pass through.
This narrowing causes a vibration in the tissues that form the throat, which generates this unpleasant noise.
Some of the causes of snoring are commonplace and can happen to anyone, such as alcohol consumption or sedative medications, since they relax the pharyngeal muscles.
Smoking can also cause people to snore because it causes swelling in the mucosa and, consequently, this narrows the nasopharynx. The same happens during colds or allergic attacks.
Sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing stops for a few moments during the night, also causes snoring. Since it is potentially dangerous, it must be carefully treated by a doctor.
Other predisposing factors for snorers are overweight, asthma (especially nocturnal asthma) and the sleeping position, especially the ‘belly up’, also known as dorsal decubitus.
On its institutional website, the sleep medicine team at Albert Einstein Hospital suggests that, before seeing a doctor, a self-assessment should be carried out with the following questions:
– Does your partner or roommate complain that you snore regularly?
– Have you recently gained weight or stopped exercising?
– Do you have family members who snore?
If the answer is yes to at least one of the questions, you are very likely to snore (if you don’t already snore). If snoring is very loud or frequent, see a sleep doctor and, if possible, bring your roommate to the appointment, as he or she can offer valuable information to the professional.
Check out more information about this noisy disorder below.
Snoring is classified in different ways in the medical literature.
Some authors categorize it from I to III, according to intensity, where III can be heard outside the room, with the door closed.
On the other hand, some references point to only two types: primary (not caused by disease; breathing is obstructed but not interrupted) and secondary (more severe; a sign of sleep apnea).
When a doctor detects that snoring is problematic and needs treatment, they first need to determine what the patient’s category is. Only after that he can choose:
– Conservative/behavioral intervention, which may include weight loss, sleep position adaptation and rhinitis treatment, among others.
– Non-surgical intervention, using an intra-oral device and CPAP, a device that sends an airflow to the airways.
– Surgical intervention, with procedures such as nasal surgery, palate surgery and bariatric surgery.
For every four male snorers, there is only one female snorer, but this number is more similar in groups of older people. Menopause, which usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, is to blame.
Luciane Luna de Mello, a pulmonologist at Instituto do Sono, in São Paulo, explained why. ‘In childbearing age, estrogen, the female sex hormone, protects the throat musculature. And just like the other muscles, those in the pharynx also lose tone over time, which contributes to closing the air passage.’
Snoring disrupts the sleep routine even of those who don’t snore. After all, it’s not easy to sleep with a noise of as many decibels as a tractor inside the room.
Both the snorer (due to breathing interruptions) and his partner (due to the noise) may have small awakenings throughout the night, making sleep unrefreshing. These moments are often not even remembered the next morning, but that doesn’t make them any less harmful.
Technologies that control sleep quality, the self-assessment mentioned above, and a visit to the doctor can have big effects on your life quality.
Stay tuned to Persono’s blog and social media for more sleep content. After all, a good night’s sleep guarantees better days.
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