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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Snoring is a sound that is made by the movement of air over relaxed throat and tongue muscles. During sleep, the breathing muscles relax much more than when a person is awake. The throat and tongue muscles loosen and sag. This may partially block your windpipe. Most snoring is not dangerous. However, snoring in some people may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (AP-nee-ah) syndrome (SIN-drohm), or OSAS. Apnea is when a person stops breathing for ten or more seconds. A person has OSAS if he stops breathing five or more times in one hour. A person also has OSAS if he stops breathing 30 or more times during a six hour sleep period.
- Treatment for snoring may include losing weight and avoiding alcohol before bedtime. Special devices that you put in your mouth, called dental appliances (ah-PLEYE-an-ses), may help. If you have sleep apnea, you may need a special machine to help you breathe while sleeping. If your snoring is caused by a problem with your nose or throat, you may need surgery.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
Most snoring is harmless. Some snoring can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. You can have high blood pressure if your snoring is due to sleep apnea syndrome. With time, sleep apnea can cause a stroke or heart and lung problems. Snoring at night can make you very tired during the day. Do not drive if you are tired. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your snoring or sleep apnea.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
You may use the call button when you need your caregiver. Pain, trouble breathing, or wanting to get out of bed are good reasons to call. The call button should always be close enough for you to reach it.
Tests may help caregivers find out what is causing your snoring and if it may be related to other medical problems. Other tests are used to help caregivers plan your treatment. You may need one or more of the following tests:
- Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
- Blood gases: This is also called an arterial blood gas, or ABG. Blood is taken from an artery (blood vessel) in your wrist, arm, or groin. Your blood is tested for the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in it. The results can tell caregivers how well your lungs are working.
- X-rays: Caregivers may take x-ray pictures of your head, neck, or chest. X-rays may help caregivers find certain problems that may be causing your snoring.
- Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
- Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.
- Sleep studies: Sleep studies are also called polysomnography. Sleep studies can help caregivers see how your brain, heart, and breathing system are working during sleep. Sleep studies may monitor the stages of sleep, oxygen levels, body position, eye movement, and snoring during sleep.
- Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): A CPAP machine is used to keep your airway open during sleep. With CPAP you wear a mask over your nose and mouth, or just your nose. The mask is held in place by soft elastic straps that go around your head. The mask is hooked up to the CPAP machine. The machine blows a gentle stream of air into the mask when you breathe. The stream of air helps to keep your airway open so you can breathe more regularly. Extra oxygen may be given to you through the machine also.
- Dental appliances: Caregivers may have you wear a dental appliance (ah-PLEYE-ans) in your mouth during sleep. It is like a mouthguard or a mouth retainer. The appliance helps to keep your airway open while you sleep. You will need to be fitted for your dental appliance by a dentist.
- Surgery: There are many kinds of surgeries and procedures to treat snoring that is caused by certain physical (body) problems. Caregivers will talk to you about which type of surgery or procedure may be best for you. Surgeries that may be done include nose or throat surgery.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.