Snoring can be expressed as noisy sleeping. The reason for snoring is the narrowing of the throat structures during sleep and the sound is produced due to the vibration of these structures in the passing air. Our throat structures consist of soft palate and uvula, tongue (especially tongue root), lateral tonsils and tonsil bed.

During the daytime, due to a certain tension of the muscles around these structures, the airway is sufficiently open and therefore there is no snoring. However, due to the significant decrease in muscle tone during sleep at night, the soft palate and uvula hang down and relax in some people. The root of the tongue moves backwards, the tonsil area approaches the midline, and if the covering on the posterior wall of the throat is loose and puffy, the three-dimensional path through which the air will pass becomes narrower. As the air passes through this narrowed space, the uvula and palate act like a curtain and snoring occurs.

What is sleep apnea?

In this situation, in sleep apnea, if the narrowing of the throat increases and closes completely or almost completely, breathing stops occur and the person first causes obstruction (breathing pause) and then short awakenings. In sleep apnea and situations close to sleep apnea (hypoapnea, etc.), decreases in blood oxygen levels and increases in blood pressure are observed. In people with sleep apnea disease, some organs and systems have to work more while they need to rest during sleep, and this may cause some diseases in the long term. The most common risks for these people are cardiovascular diseases and cerebrovascular diseases. Again, due to low oxygen and frequent awakenings at night, the person may feel tired during the day and need constant sleep. In this case, he starts to have problems in his work, academic life and social relations during the day. Some studies show that one of the most important causes of traffic accidents is napping at the wheel.

What are the causes of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea and snoring are most common in overweight people. If you are overweight and snoring, you should definitely lose weight. The effect of nasal congestion and difficulty in breathing through the nose on sleep apnea has been reported as 30% or more in studies. If there is congestion in the nose, it is recommended to treat it. There is a risk of snoring and sleep apnea if there is a significant enlargement of the tonsils, if there is a significant enlargement or sagging of the palate and uvula, if there is an enlargement of the tongue root, and if the chin is located behind.

If you have difficulty in breathing at night, snoring and respiratory arrest, you should definitely be examined. After the examination, if necessary, a sleep study (sleep polysomnography) is performed. The most important diagnostic phase of sleep apnea is sleep study. You sleep in the hospital for one night and in this study, certain parameters are studied, especially snoring, sleep obstruction and breathing pauses (sleep apnea), oxygen level.

How is the treatment progressing?

Certain treatments should be applied to people who are found to have sleep apnea after sleep study. To summarize briefly, the most important step of treatment is weight loss. If there is moderate or severe sleep apnea, assistive devices should be used to support breathing during sleep. Adapting to these devices can be difficult at times, but this is the best and most recommended way to control and reduce sleep apnea. Some patients may find it very difficult to adapt to these devices or they may have some additional diseases (such as prominent nasal congestion or significant tonsil enlargement). Here, some surgeries may have benefits in this patient group. These surgeries, which are planned for some parts of the nose and throat, have evolved into methods and approaches that carry the least risk and can give the most benefit.

In conclusion, sleep apnea and snoring should not be underestimated because of their current quality of life and potential risks in the future. Patients should be examined and according to the sleep study test, the patient and his doctor should be treated together within the framework of an appropriate plan.




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