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Jan 29, 2009

Healthy Living explores the causes of snoring

Story PictureIt’s a disorder that is regarded more as a nuisance than a health problem. It is more common in men than it is in women and while most carry on with their lives conceding that they snore, there is reason to pay closer attention to this disorder. This segment of Healthy Living takes a look at this common problem.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
At the end of each day we all seek a good night’s sleep. Resting to take on the challenge of whatever is to come the day after. But when you don’t wake up feeling completely rejuvenated in the mornings, one of the unsuspecting causes may be your snoring.

Dr. Alvin Flores, Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist
“Snoring we define it as upper respiratory noise that occurs during sleep. What happens there’s a poor air flow going through the upper respiratory tract and usually there’s an obstruction, a pathological obstruction could be there.”

Marleni Cuellar
“What is actually causing the blocking that causes the snoring?”

Dr. Alvin Flores
“Okay, there are three areas of the upper respiratory tract that can be obstructed, the nose or what we call the nasal pharynx area, the mouth or the oral pharynx area and even the area of the soft palette and the area of the larynx and the trachea. Those are the three areas that could be obstructed and could be causing a poor airflow and that’s why it would cause snoring which is just vibration of pharyngeal structure, the uvula, the soft palette, the base of the tongue and the lateral walls of the pharynx will be causing a vibration and therefore be causing snoring. Once you snore regularly, you need to come see the specialist.”

Marleni Cuellar
“So you should not be snoring every single night.”

Dr. Alvin Flores
“No, once you have one of the cardinal symptoms, what we call daytime somnolence; the person feels drowsy during the day or he feels light headed, or even falls asleep in inappropriate areas like in his work area or watching TV, he falls asleep during the day, you have to go an look for a specialist to find where the problem is. Of course, you have other symptoms like I mentioned before, which is morning headaches, fatigue, irritability. Those are signs that we need to look for.”

Occasional snoring is not usually a very serious health concern, perhaps just a bother for those with whom you share your bed. But if the snoring is persistent, it may be time to check with a specialist.

Dr. Alvin Flores
“There are studies that show that fifty percent of males snore and twenty-five percent of females snore but not on a regular basis. This could be normal, this might not be a problem but when it is regular and causing what we call obstructive sleep apnea, then it becomes a problem and one of the cardinal symptoms apart from snoring is that the patient has daytime somnolence or he feels sleepy throughout the whole day. He feels sleepy throughout the day, he feels tired and that’s a sign that he needs to see an ear nose throat specialist.”

In addition to daytime somnolence, morning headaches, feeling restless, irritability and fatigued, another warning sign can only be detected by those with whom you sleep.

Dr. Alvin Flores
“The spouse or the partner would say you know I saw my partner stop breathing temporarily for a couple of seconds. That’s what we call apnea; there’s a cessation of airflow for ten seconds or more and those are signs that we should look and go and see ear, nose throat specialist to see where the obstruction is. If we find the obstruction we can eliminate the problem.”

One of the main ways to eliminate the problem is through surgery to remove the obstruction causing the blockage. It may be a worthy investment, as Dr. Flores points out, to the effects habitual snoring may have on your health.

Dr. Alvin Flores
“First of all if you’re not getting the right amount of oxygen, you get something that we call Hypoxia. There’s a lack of oxygen flowing to the brain, to the heart which could lead to complications. For example, when this happens, the heart begins to work more, especially the right part of the heart begins to pump more because you’re not getting the right oxygen. Remember the heart is the one that takes oxygen to the whole body so if you’re not getting right oxygenation, then you could have cardiac complications, especially in the late ages like after fifty, sixty.”

Other causes for snoring may be linked to lifestyle choices, these are remedied in a much simpler manner.

Dr. Alvin Flores
“Targeting the underlying causes or predisposing factors. If you’re obese or overweight, you definitely have to go through a regime of losing weight, getting to your ideal weight. If you smoke, you need to stop smoking. If you like to drink your beers or any alcoholic beverages during the night before going to bed, we need to stop that. The quality of the patient will improve, he will have more energy, he will not feel tired. He will sleep better, he will not be distracting his spouse. That’s why there’s a saying; we can laugh and smile with the world, but if you snore you’ll sleep alone.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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