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Understanding Snoring -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Is Snoring 'Diagnosed?'

Your doctor will ask about any allergies you may have, as well as about your eating patterns, what medicines you take, and whether you drink alcohol or smoke. Your doctor will also examine your throat and nasal passages for any signs of nasal, mouth, dental, jaw, or throat deformities that may contribute to snoring.

If your doctor suspects that you have obstructive sleep apnea, your partner may be asked to keep a diary noting your sleeping and snoring patterns. You can also take a sleep-monitoring study, which will analyze if, when, and how often you stop breathing during sleep.

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Nix the Nightcap for Better Sleep?

Joanne Brucker, 47, grew up with European parents, who considered it traditional to drink wine with dinner each night. But eventually she noticed her nightly quaffing was interfering with her slumber. "I tried to keep it up," she says, "but anything more than two glasses definitely kept me from falling asleep. Why does alcohol before bedtime affect me so much?" Simply put, alcohol makes it hard for you to stay asleep and sleep well, says J. Todd Arnedt, PhD, clinical assistant professor at the Sleep...

Read the Nix the Nightcap for Better Sleep? article > >

What Are the Treatments for Snoring?

There are hundreds of products, exercises, medical devices, drugs, and surgeries that claim to treat snoring. However, in most cases, simple lifestyle changes can help stop snoring. They include:

  • Don't drink alcohol within three hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid sedatives and antihistamines, especially at bedtime.
  • If you're overweight, get to and maintain a healthy weight. Losing even a few pounds may make a big difference.
  • Exercise can strengthen and tone muscles, including those in the neck.
  • If you suffer from allergies, try to eliminate allergens in the bedroom -- such as removing pets, regularly washing your sheets in hot water to remove dust mites, and removing any mold.
  • Sleep on your side.
  • Use a humidifier if the air in your home is too dry.

A variety of products designed to help you sleep on your side -- a position that can decrease snoring -- may help some people.

A variety of products designed to dilate the nasal passages, such as nasal strips or nasal support devices, may work in some people with congestion or nasal abnormalities.

Other products include pills, sprays, and herbal products that claim to decrease nasal congestion and devices to correct mouth breathing. These haven't been aggressively studied, so caution is advised.

Over-the-counter products that work by keeping you in a more wakeful sleep, which does not allow you to obtain a restful, deep sleep. This can contribute to dangerous and excessive sleepiness.

If you have a jaw or mouth abnormality that is causing nasal obstruction, your dentist may be able to fit you with a dental appliance to correct the problem and lessen snoring.

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