Snoring is a persistent problem that affects millions of Americans every year. It is often as much as a nuisance — if not more — for the snorer’s partner than for the snorer themselves. It also tends to get much worse as we get older. There are many reasons why snoring worsens with age, but whatever the reason, it’s important to get the problem treated as it can be a symptom of deeper health issues and can cause health concerns related to sleep deprivation.
When people age, we tend to gain weight, including in the neck area. As the neck gets thicker, it narrows the air passages, which results in difficulty breathing and, in turn, snoring. In addition, as we age and become less active, we lose muscle tone, which includes the muscles in our throat. As these muscles atrophy, it increases the problem.
People in their senior years are often on drugs like prednisone for arthritis or other chronic pain issues. Prednisone carries weight gain as a side effect. Another factor in women that contributes to snoring are hormonal changes that accompany menopause. The decrease in estrogen increases the loss of muscle tone.
One of the simplest treatments for snoring is an old and time-honored approach: “Honey, roll over; you’re snoring in my ear!” Certain sleeping positions are more susceptible to snoring than others. In particular, those who sleep on their back are more likely to snore, but some people snore worse when sleeping on their right side than their left.
Snoring can be a sign of a very serious and common disorder: obstructive sleep apnea. In this disorder, obstructions in the airways cause people to cease breathing for a few seconds at a time throughout the night. Sleep apnea is associated with all manner of problems, from fatigue to mood and emotional problems to cardiovascular issues. As snoring worsens with age, the risk for these problems grows along with it.
Worse, many people who have sleep apnea don’t even realize that they have the problem. This is why it can be very dangerous to ignore your partner’s claims that you snore. Particularly if you snore and have high stress levels, mood swings or experience tiredness and fatigue during the day, you should get checked out to determine if you have sleep apnea.
Treatments for sleep apnea can often include dietary and lifestyle changes. Losing weight and being more physically active can treat the physical problems of weight gain and muscle tone. Other approaches involve nasal strips, mouth pieces, nasal and throat surgery, or medical treatments like CPAP.
As snoring worsens with age, it carries with it many associated health risks and should not be ignored. If you have problems with snoring and are in the Atlanta area, you may want to get a consultation or sleep study. After looking over our website, give us a call today!