Snoring occurs during sleep due to a partial blockage in the upper airway, as a result of receding tongue or relaxing jaw, and the vibration of tissues. When the underlying causes of snoring start to progress from comparatively safe sound to being the sleep disorder called sleep apnea, which poses numerous risk factors or health concerns, it often develops first into Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome.
Snoring is a sign that some sort of resistance is happening in one’s upper respiratory system. The more this resistance, the more the breathing effort required to overcome the same. Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome happens when one’s breathing effort changes from being a snoring sign to a harmful sleep disorder. Not all people with the health disorder snore during sleep, even as symptoms may sound similar to heavy or labored breathing.
Reasons behind the sleep disorder are similar to that of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome can be caused by narrowed airway, loose fatty throat tissues that recede into the airway, or even the tongue’s position that fall back. Those who suffer from this sleep disorder necessitate more breathing effort, which is similar to breathing through a straw.
Similar to sleep apnea, the patient’s brain in such a case has to arouse itself from deep sleep stages to increase the effort for respiration. When our brain is aroused constantly from deep sleep phases, it becomes unable to perform other significant tasks it has to finish so that one can feel refreshed in the morning. This is what leads to symptoms chronic fatigue as well as excessive sleepiness during the day, two symptoms comparable to OSA.
It is also seen that people can move from snoring to Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome due to aging and weight gain. While the former causes reduced muscle tone in the throat, the latter increases fatty throat tissues that cause more resistance to airflow. Women during pregnancy’s third trimester are also susceptible to develop the sleep disorder due to weight gain.
The disorder has the following consequences on a person’s sleep patterns and health.
- Frequent waking up in between sleeping hours
- Difficulty in going to sleep or staying asleep
- A risk factor for chronic insomnia
- Excessive sleepiness during the daytime
There are several treatments for Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, which comprise CPAP too as a last resort. The main treatment comprises the use of snoring solutions, like mouthpieces or similar dental appliances used to treat OSA. The treatment also centers on those concerned with making behavioral and lifestyle changes. They include sufficient exercise and correct eating methods prior to bedtime to prevent weight gain, abstaining from alcohol as well as sleep sedatives, and positional therapy.