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5 Simple Fixes for Snoring From a Pulmonologist

January 12, 2023

If your snoring is waking up your partner (or worse – you’re the one whose sleep is being disrupted), you may be wondering if there’s a way to stop it once and for all.

In some cases, an appointment with a sleep specialist might be warranted. But for others, it may not be necessary, says Steven Thau, MD, a pulmonologist and sleep specialist with St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.

“If it’s only mild snoring meaning it happens every once in a while then it can usually be corrected by certain at-home remedies,” says Thau.

Dr. Thau offers these five simple fixes to help reduce mild snoring, including natural solutions and lifestyle changes.

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Weight loss

In the United States, one of the leading causes of snoring is being overweight.

“Snoring caused by being overweight is due to the way adipose tissue is deposited within the throat and neck,” says Dr. Thau. “Having a large neck circumference is a risk factor for loud snoring.”

In some cases where a person isn’t overweight, snoring can be caused by an anatomical issue that can’t be fixed without the help of a doctor.

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Try a different sleeping position

Most people tend to snore when laying on their back. Positional therapy or using different kinds of pillows that will prevent you from rolling onto your back while you sleep may help.

“When lying on your back, the tongue and other structures of the throat fall back and closes off the airway,” explains Dr. Thau.

If you snore regardless of what position you sleep in, it may be a sign that you may need professional help.

Limit alcohol consumption

“No matter who you are if you drink enough alcohol, eventually you’ll snore,” says Dr. Thau.

Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the back of the throat causing them to close. The more you drink, the louder you will snore.

Dr. Thau recommends abstaining or at least limiting alcohol consumption, especially three hours before bedtime.

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Keep nasal passages clear

Being congested from a cold is more likely to make you snore because you breathe more through your mouth.

“Mouth breathing will cause your throat to get dry. Once that happens, the saliva evaporates then becomes like glue causing your tongue to get stuck to the roof of your mouth and back of your throat,” says Dr. Thau.

Try a short-term nasal decongestant, use nasal saline, nasal irrigation (with distilled water only), or try over-the-counter nasal strips and nasal dilators.

Over-the-counter devices

Mouth taping is one of the latest TikTok trends, but does it work?

“If you’re going to tape your mouth shut, you better be able to breathe through your nose,” says Dr. Thau. “If you have chronic nasal congestion, don’t even bother.”

Dr. Thau also advises that eventually, mouth taping will lead to irritation of the skin from the tape’s adhesives.

A dental appliance is more likely to be effective than mouth taping, says Dr. Thau. These devices, which can be bought over the counter or on the internet, anchor the lower jaw to the upper jaw preventing the tongue from falling back.

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When to see a doctor

If you’ve tried to cure your snoring at home for at least two weeks to no avail, then it’s time to see a doctor.

In some cases, snoring can be caused a condition like obstructive sleep apnea that can lead to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease such as heart attacks and heart rhythm issues, stroke and even dementia if not treated.