Snoring is a common sleep behavior exhibited by older adults, commonly worsening or becoming more prevalent with age. Snoring as aging progress seems completely harmless, if not a mild annoyance at first glance, chronic snoring could imply a much more serious health concern.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring, while common, is underexplained. Most people who snore don’t know the reason behind their snoring habit, including you or a loved one. The occurrence of snoring is usually caused by a restricted airway, due to various factors such as excessive alcohol consumption, a large tongue, and obesity.
For aging adults, a common reason would be the muscles and tissues at the back of the throat losing their tone, these muscles and tissues becoming slack during sleep, blocking the airway. When one tries to breathe in when experiencing a blocked airway, the airway partially collapses. This causes the tissues in one’s oral area (tonsils, soft palate, tongue, adenoids) to vibrate and rumble, making the familiar tremor of a snore during sleep.
However, in the case of a completely blocked airway during sleep, one can experience periods of interrupted breathing. This is frequently experienced by individuals with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that involves irregular breathing during sleep due to a narrowed or blocked airway, disrupting one’s restful slumber. This can cause restful awakenings in the middle of the night. While the reported likelihood of an adult suffering from obstructive sleep apnea is 2% to 9%, it is also important to keep in mind that obstructive sleep apnea is a notoriously underreported and underdiagnosed condition. In severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, patients can experience fitful breathing patterns up to 30 times for every hour of sleep. Other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea besides loud snoring can include:
- Heavy sleepiness during the day
- Waking up choking, feeling breathless
- Dry mouth after waking up
- Sore throat after waking up
- Headache after waking up
- Mood swings, especially crankiness and irritability
- Memory issues such as forgetfulness
How to Fix Snoring Habits
The key to fixing snoring habits in you or a loved one would be to improve airflow. Thankfully, most of the fixes are simple lifestyle changes that are realistically achievable.
Changing sleep posture can do wonders for managing obstructive sleep apnea and snoring habits. A contributor to how common snoring is in the elderly is the posture in which they sleep. Many elderly individuals tend to sleep on their backs, which can cause the further collapse of their airways, due to the effects of gravity. To lessen snoring, obstructive sleep apnea patients are advised to sleep on their stomachs or their sides instead.
Other fixes depend on the reason behind you or your loved one’s snoring habits. For example, if nasal congestion can also be a factor, you can take the appropriate medication or use nasal strips as an aid.
Discovery Village At Boynton Beach Protects Seniors’ Health
If you or a loved one experiences chronic snoring and other health concerns, it could be a sign to transition towards senior living communities such as Discovery Village At Boynton Beach which offer senior living options that prioritize health.