If you are a snorer, you might think that the right approach is to use over-the-counter (OTC) remedies to help you—and those around you—sleep better at night. But the truth is that over-the-counter remedies are rarely effective. And they may reduce sound without addressing more serious breathing problems. In some cases, they may even cause more serious problems. Before considering any OTC remedy, it’s important to determine whether you have sleep apnea, which requires professional care.
Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
Before considering any OTC snoring remedy, you need to figure out whether you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition that is closely linked with snoring. Snoring may be annoying, but the warning it provides about sleep apnea is welcome. If a snoring remedy treats the sound but not the underlying breathing problem, you could be putting yourself at risk.
OTC Snoring Remedies
There are many types of OTC snoring remedies. The most common types are:
- Nasal dilators
- Imitation oral appliances
- Chin supporters
Nasal dilators address snoring that is caused by constriction of air in the nasal passages. The most common type of nasal dilator is a semi-rigid piece of plastic that is bent over the nose and adheres to the skin with glue. The plastic tries to resume its flat shape, pulling the nostrils up and outward. This can be moderately effective for people whose snoring originates in the nose.
Anti-snoring sprays claim to lessen snoring primarily by lubricating the throat to make it easier for air to pass through, as though the air were scraping against the sides of your throat. There is no evidence that these work, as the manufacturers have never attempted to actually study their product.
Imitation oral appliances usually look similar to the oral appliances we sell, but they don’t actually function the way oral appliances are supposed to. Most of these oral appliances come in stock sizes and shapes, with little adjustability or customizability. At best, you will be able to heat the appliance and bite into it to make it fit your teeth. This does not, however, mean that it actually fits your bite or that it has been optimally positioned to open your airway.
Chin supporters have recently become popular. These are basically straps that wrap around the head and chin, pulling the jaw back and up in order to keep you from breathing through your mouth. For some people, this may reduce the volume of snoring because the amplification chamber of the mouth isn’t involved in the sound, but it can actually be harmful to your breathing. Pulling your jaw back and up is probably the worst thing you can do for keeping the airway open. And the main reason why people breathe through their mouth in the first place is that they don’t get enough air when they breathe through their nose. So, even though you may eliminate snoring with a chin supporter, you’re likely worsening your breathing.
Why Not Try OTC Remedies?
You might think that these OTC remedies are harmless, but, in general, they’re not. They all share the problem that they can keep you from seeking professional help when you have sleep apnea. The longer you delay treatment, the worse the impact on your health.
OTC remedies can also contribute to TMJ. The chin strap and imitation oral appliances can put your jaw in an unhealthy position, causing or contributing to jaw joint damage, teeth wear, and jaw pain.
And then there’s the matter of cost. You may think that these OTC remedies are cheap, but any amount of money thrown away on ineffectual treatments is too much to pay, and a much worse value than investing in effective snoring relief.
To learn more about snoring relief in Detroit, please call (248) 480-0085 for an appointment at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.