SAN ANTONIO – An estimated 37 million Americans snore, but those noises may do more than disrupt your partner's sleep. Snoring can be a warning sign of a potentially life threatening condition.
Snoring happens when the airway is partially blocked, typically caused by nasal congestion, enlarged tonsils, floppy tissue or alcohol.
"Nasal strips don’t always work," said Consumer Reports' Health Editor Diane Umanski. "Instead try lifestyle strategies to help keep your airway open and help you stop snoring."
Thoe changes include easing a stuffy nose, elevating your head and sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol at least 4 hours before bed, quitting smoking, and losing weight.
"If these steps don’t work, it’s probably time to call a doctor who can test you for obstructive sleep apnea or OSA," Umanski said.
OSA, marked by breathing stops and starts during sleep, occurs when something partly or completely blocks your airway. It affects 34 percent of men and 19 percent of women who snore regularly and can heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, and hypertension.
An oral appliance can help keep the airway open, or your doctor might prescribe continuous positive airway pressure or C-PAP treatment which uses a machine to increase air into your throat.
If all else fails surgery may be your only other option. Consumer Reports says ask your doctor about procedures which can open up the airway and help you stop snoring.
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