Written by Amy Roper (last updated August 23, 2013)
Most people, at some point in their lives, will be affected by snoring. Usually, if you're the culprit, you're unaware. Most people find out that they snore when they're told by someone who shares their bed or sleeps nearby. Because restful sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, finding a way to reduce or eliminate snoring is valuable for everyone involved. Snoring occurs when the airways are not properly clear or open. It can be a result of illness, excessive weight, respiratory irritation, certain medications or even simply the position in which you sleep. When you snore, your body gets less oxygen than it would otherwise, which can affect the immune system and increase fatigue. Making sure the airways are unobstructed is the goal of any snoring remedy.
Any illness that affects the respiratory system can also cause or worsen snoring. If you have seasonal allergies, treating the allergies can relieve the symptoms; there are a number of allergy medications available that can be helpful. For any condition causing nasal irritation or congestion, nasal sprays or drops can help soothe and clear the airways, and some formulations even include decongestants or allergy treatments. Cold medicines can include decongestants as well; check the packaging for either to see whether the ingredients may be helpful. If you have any health conditions, are already taking medications, or have any other concerns, consider consulting your doctor.
More physical causes may be involved as well. Whenever your lungs expand, they don't simply do it on their own—there are muscles that are responsible for the expansion and contraction of lungs when you breathe. If you are overweight, these muscles may be more strained to open the lungs and your airways may also not open properly. For some people, weight loss is not only a healthy goal but can relieve their snoring. Sleeping on the back can also cause snoring if you are positioned in such a way that your airway is constricted. Sleeping on your side may be the best and easiest remedy in this case. If you find yourself unable to sleep on your side, you may find that a specially-shaped pillow designed to position the head and neck for more open airways may be helpful.
Herbal remedies are available in pill forms which are thought to affect the mucus production in your respiratory system, and thereby improve snoring. Aromatherapy using marjoram essential oil is also helpful for some (generally used by soaking a cloth or sponge in the oil and keeping it in a jar, which you open when you go to sleep and close when you get up). Some medications may also increase snoring. This must be addressed on a case-by-case basis and only under the guidance of a doctor.
If you are told that your breathing seems to stop momentarily while you sleep, consult with your doctor. This may be a serious condition called sleep apnea, which can have stronger effects on your health and requires different treatments. Your doctor can help you determine whether you have this condition and how to approach treatment.
Whatever the cause may be, it is important to find a way to relieve snoring, as the quality of sleep can have a strong effect on the health of both the one snoring and any being woken by the snoring.
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