Snoring / Choking / Pauses in Breathing
Snoring is very common and can occur when you drink too much alcohol, sleep very deeply, or sometimes just in certain positions.
When mild it may just be an occasional source of amusement or embarrassment, or sometimes irritate a bed partner. However some people snore severely every night, all night. While they may be blissfully unaware, their partner or family members, perhaps even neighbours, can suffer severe sleep disturbance. Significant social problems can develop, particularly within relationships.
If your snoring is becoming troublesome then there are several things which may be contributing to the problem:
- Excess weight
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Sleeping on your back if the snoring is worse in that position
These are factors which you may already recognise and should be the starting point for efforts to improve snoring.
If troublesome snoring persists despite dealing with any of the above factors, or you need help doing so, then you should consult your GP.
If you snore and have any of the following symptoms then you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA):
- Waking up unrefreshed in the morning
- Sleepy during the day
- Breathing pauses seen by your partner when you are asleep
- Waking up choking
If you think you might have OSA then consult your GP about being referred to a sleep centre for further assessment.
Sometimes troublesome snoring persists despite best efforts. In these cases the use of earplugs may be the best solution! If not then you may wish to discuss referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist with your GP. They will be able to discuss with you whether surgery might be an option, although this can be quite painful, has other side effects and often does not work.
A 42 year old man (Mr M) had developed increasingly severe snoring over the past 5 years. Over that time his weight had gone up by 3 stone since stopping playing competitive rugby. His alcohol intake had also crept up, so that he drank a bottle of wine most evenings. Mr M was not bothered by the snoring but his wife was having increasing difficulty sleeping due to the constant noise. She often ended up sleeping in the spare room and this was straining their relationship.
With encouragement from his wife, Mr M consulted his GP. He was advised to reduce his drinking and to lose weight, and was referred to a dietician for advice. Mr M also joined a local gym and began to exercise regularly. Over the next 6 months he lost 2 stone and his snoring eased. Mrs M no longer had to retreat to the spare room and their relationship had improved. Mr M still occasionally snored, but when he did it was milder and generally only occurred when he slept on his back. A well-placed elbow usually led to a quick change of position and resolution of snoring.