Snoring is a common problem, especially among men, but is not usually taken seriously. Many of those who suffer from severe snoring and sleep apnea find themselves to be the butt of jokes among friends or complaints from a sleeping partner. While severe snoring may seem funny to old college roommates, it can actually be a serious threat to your health.

Loud and labored snoring is often a symptom of a disorder called obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when the airway fully or partially collapses during sleep. The soft tissues of the throat can fall backwards into the airway, obstructing breathing. Sometimes the airway will be blocked for several minutes, forcing the sleeper to wake suddenly in order to breathe. For this reason, sleep apnea prevents a sound sleep. Some symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:

- Loud, chronic snoring
- Choking and snorting suddenly during sleep
- Acute sleepiness throughout the day
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Morning headaches
- Restless and inconsistent sleeping patterns
- Waking with a sore throat and/or dry mouth
- Waking with an “out-of-breath” feeling
- Irritability, depression, or mood swings
- Forgetfulness and problems concentrating

The breathing difficulties and lack of sleep caused by sleep apnea have been associated with serious health risks, some of which include:

- High blood pressure
- Heart disease, irregular heart beat, and even heart failure
- Diabetes
- Emotional disorders and depression
- Decreased sexual desire
- Obesity
- Falling asleep while driving or working

Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Although sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, there are several options available to those who suffer from the condition. From natural remedies to surgery, the treatment will depend on the severity of the problem. Below are several treatment options.

For less severe cases, a change of lifestyle can provide some improvement. A few natural ways to improve sleep apnea may be:

- Sustain a regular sleep schedule. Sleep apnea symptoms may improve with long, regular sleep patterns.
- Lose weight. Obesity has been shown to increase the likelihood of collapsed airways during sleep.
- Quit smoking. Inflammation and fluid retention caused by smoking can further restrict the airway.
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping medication, and sedatives since these substances can relax the muscles of the throat.
- Keep head propped up and sleep on your side throughout the night.

Oral Sleep Aids

If lifestyle changes and natural techniques are not effective, there are several proven techniques to treat sleep apnea. Perhaps the most non-invasive method in Florida is the use of an oral appliance to reposition the jaw during sleep. This appliance, often referred to as a sleep aid, fits inside the mouth much like a mouth guard. Your dentist will fit you with a custom appliance that slightly changes the position of the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, and hyoid bone during sleep. This gentle repositioning will open and stabilize the structures in the throat in order to prevent collapse and keep airways open at all times. Many patients prefer the oral appliance over other treatments since it is noninvasive and allows the wearer to sleep comfortably.

Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure Machines

Another common approach to improve sleep apnea is a Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) machine. This device keeps the airways open during sleep by applying a constant stream of air through a face mask. Since air is constantly being circulated through the throat and lungs, the wearer will not suffer from periods of breathlessness.

When used correctly and consistently, the CPAP machine has a very high success rate. The only disadvantage is that many patients complain that the device is uncomfortable and prohibits a relaxed sleep. Patients often remove the face mask during the night, rendering the machine ineffective.

Surgical Treatments for Sleep Apnea

When all else fails, there are surgical procedures that can improve or prevent sleep apnea complications. By removing the tonsils, adenoids, and excess soft tissue from the back of the throat, your surgeon can increase the size of the airways. A surgical reconstruction or repositioning of the jaw can also prevent the collapse of airways during sleep. Of course, surgery is usually a last resort due to a higher risk of complications and infection.

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A dental appliance can improve severe snoring disorders: . Read more at .