Healthy living

What's causing you to snore?

What s causing you to snore? Don't rely on Old Wives cures to stop

Stick a ball in your pyjamas, gargle with garlic and suck a dummy – nope, not some kinky parlour game but Old Wives’ cures for snoring.

Who hasn’t suffered the noisy honks of a bedtime companion, or realised the snoring from one’s own nose has led to a sore throat in the morning?

Given the preponderance of people affected by snoring – an estimated 30 million in the UK - it’s unsurprising a host of unorthodox “cures” have been concocted.

But the question is: do any of them actually work?

In a bid to find out once and for all, the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association (BSSAA) put the top ten to the test with 2,000 volunteers.

Among them: sewing a tennis ball into the back of pyjamas, drinking milk, eating horseradish, phonetic exercises, gargling with garlic, sucking a dummy, rubbing toothpaste under the nostrils and sleeping without pillows.

The results? None of them did the trick.

"As expected not one of the volunteers had stopped snoring," says Marianne Davey, director of the BSSAA.

On the contrary, the so-called remedies often ended up causing more trouble – from sore necks and dry mouths to “nearly choking on the dummy” and even the problematic removal of toothpaste from moustaches.

So what on earth can be done to stop the habit? The answer, according to the BSSAA, is to pinpoint the cause and then adopt one of a number of scientifically proven treatments.

To mark National Stop Snoring Week, the charity is promoting an online ‘test’ to help sufferers determine what’s making them snore. A series of simple multiple choice questions guides the user through to the most likely cause and advises of the best cause of action.

Reasons for snoring include:

  • Being obese – particularly if you have a large amount of fat around the neck (more than 17in)
  • Drinking alcohol, which relaxes muscles and increases narrowing of airways
  • Taking some types of antidepressants and sedatives, which can have the same effect as alcohol
  • Smoking, which can inflame and therefore narrow the airways
  • Allergic rhinitis, which causes the inside of the nose to become swollen due to allergy to substances such as dust or pollen

Other causes include issues with the mouth, nose or throat, such as simply being a ‘mouth breather’, to having polyps in the nostrils.

Treatments range from losing weight and exercising more to cutting out alcohol and cigarettes, nasal dilators, or something called a Mandibular Advancement Device, which holds the lower jaw and tongue forward, making more space to breathe and prevent snoring.

The fact is that while snoring is often seen as cause for amusement, to those who suffer it can be far from funny. The average snore is around 50 decibels but can reach up to 100 – while the World Health Organisation cites the threshold for noise disturbance at 42 decibels.

As Davey says: "We estimate that at least half the nation is disturbed by snoring. It most definitely is a serious matter in a relationship and can, and has been, the cause of relationship breakdown and divorce."

Some types of snoring can indicate more severe problems such as sleep apnoea, where the breathing is affected during sleep. A key symptom would be excessive sleepiness during the day, in which case you should visit your GP.

And persistent snoring can also damage the throat and even has associations with serious conditions such as stroke.

Which is why establishing the root cause is vital. Adds Davey: “The key to resolving the problem is to first find the cause and then treat it with an appropriate remedy."

To take the interactive snoring test go to BSSAA snore tests or for more information, see British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association

This article was published on Tue 24 April 2012



Image © Maridav - Fotolia.com


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