Snoring Glossary


Snoring Glossary

AHI – Stands for “Apnea Hypopnea Index” and is the way of measuring the severity of sleep apnea. This is a count of the number of times you experience apneic or hypopneic episodes in one hour. READ MORE

Allergic reaction – This is an immune response to something non-infectious, e.g. pollen or pet dander.

Allergic rhinitis – Nasal inflammation/blockage caused by an allergic reaction.

Anticholinergic nasal spray – A type of nasal spray which blocks the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which in certain areas of the body can activate nasal mucus glands. This type of spray provides relief from a runny nose. READ MORE

Antihistamine – A type of medication used to block the action of histamine, a prominent chemical released during allergic reactions. Antihistamines usually come in nasal spray or pill form.

Apnea – Literally translates to “no breathing”.

Apneic episode – A period of 10 seconds or more where your breathing stops during sleep. The number of these in an hour helps to generate the AHI. READ MORE

Arousal – Waking up. Frequent arousals are indicative of sleep apnea.

BMI – Stands for “Body Mass Index” and is a measure of healthy body size based on the relationship between your height and weight. It is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.

BPA-free – Refers to plastics that do not contain the industrial chemical bisphenol A. Whilst not explicitly harmful, it has been shown to bind to certain hormone receptors in the body.

Buccinator – One of the largest muscles in the cheek. Exercising these muscles can help to reduce snoring.

Central sleep apnea – A condition where breathing periodically stops during sleep due to the brain’s faulty regulation of breathing muscles.

CPAP – Stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure” and is the most favoured treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. CPAP machines consist of a generator, a hose and a mask which introduces a continuous flow of air into the airways to prevent them from collapsing.

Decongestant nasal spray – A type of nasal spray that constricts the blood vessels in the nose to open the nasal passages. If overused, decongestants can cause rebound congestion. READ MORE

Deviated septum – A condition where the cartilage that separates the two nasal cavities is misaligned. This can make one nostril harder to breathe through than the other. READ MORE

ECG – Stands for “electrocardiogram” and is a way of measuring the activity of the heart. These measurements are usually taken during a sleep study.

EEG – Stands for “electroencephalogram” and is a way of measuring the electrical activity of the brain. These measurements are usually taken during a sleep study.

ENT – Stands for “ear, nose and throat” and usually refers to a medical specialism/professional.

Epiglottis – literally translating to “near the tongue”, this is a moveable piece of cartilage in the throat which separates the windpipe from the oesophagus. It marks the lower boundary of the oropharynx, the area of concern when it comes to snoring.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale – A popular screening test for sleep apnea to assess how tired you are feeling. It asks you the likelihood of falling asleep in certain scenarios. A score of 16 or more shows that you are very sleepy. TAKE THE TEST

FDA approved – This refers to a medical product that has passed safety/efficacy criteria set by the US Food and Drug Association.

Hard palate – The roof of your mouth.

Histamine – A chemical released by immune cells in the blood in response to allergens. It causes inflammation at the site of its release.

Hyperpnea – The process of increasing the rate of breathing. This is usually a normal physiological process in response to increased oxygen demand as in exercise.

Hypopnea – Literally means “low breathing”. This is a feature of obstructive sleep apnea where breathing is partially blocked.

Hypopneic episode – A period of 10 seconds or more where your breathing is markedly reduced without ceasing alltogether. The number of these in an hour helps to generate the AHI. READ MORE

Inflammation – The body’s response to injury or infection. It consists of the flooding of immune cells and inflammatory chemicals to an area to heal it and produces swelling, redness and itching.

Lateral sleeping – Sleeping on your side. This is an effective way to reduce the likelihood of snoring. READ MORE

MAD – Stands for “Mandibular Advancement Device” and refers to a mouthpiece designed to advance your lower jaw (mandible) forward to tighten airway tissue and prevent your tongue blocking your airway.

Mast cell inhibitor nasal spray – A type of nasal spray for allergy sufferers. They are best used before the onset of symptoms. They work by preventing the release of histamine from a specific type of immune cell, a mast cell. READ MORE

Mouth exercises – Exercises for the tongue, cheeks, soft palate, uvula and all associated muscles in the oropharynx. These are based on exercises developed in speech pathology. READ MORE

Nasal cushion/pillow – A type of CPAP mask that uses two cushioned pads directly on the nostrils as opposed to fitting over the entire nose. READ MORE

Nasal dilator – Usually made of silicone, these are small pieces of material that fit inside your nostrils to widen them and prevent them from collapsing so as to improve airflow through the nose. This can help reduce snoring is you experience partial nasal blockage. READ MORE

Nasal irrigation – The process of flushing your nasal passages with salt water to break down excess mucus and soothe inflamed tissue.

Nasal mask – A type of CPAP mask that fits over the entire nose. READ MORE

Nasal polyps – Benign growths of excess tissue in the nasal cavities as a result of chronic nasal inflammation. This can inhibit nasal breathing and cause snoring as a result.

Nasal strips – A plaster-like strip of material with rigid bands that sticks to the bridge of your nose. This is designed to open your nasal valve to enable easier breathing through the nose. This can help reduce snoring is you experience partial nasal blockage. READ MORE

Nasal valve – The narrowest part of the nasal cavity. This can easily become blocked and lead to snoring.

Neti pot – A pot used for nasal irrigation to help snoring caused by a blocked nose. They can be ceramic, steel or plastic. READ MORE

Non-allergic rhinitis – Nasal inflammation caused by non-allergic factors. This can be due to a number of causes.

NREM – Stands for “non-rapid eye movement” a period of sleep that includes the deepest sleep, NREM 4. READ MORE

Obstructive sleep apnea – The condition where breathing repeatedly stops during sleep due to complete or partial blockages in the upper airway. READ MORE

Oxygen saturation – A measurement of the proportion of haemoglobin in red blood cells that has oxygen attached compared to total haemoglobin. A normal range is from 94-99%.

PSG – Stands for “polysomnography” which literally translates to “many sleep measurements”. PSG is performed in a sleep study to investigate sleep disorders and includes measuring heart activity, brain activity, breathing effort and blood oxygen saturation amongst many other factors. READ MORE

Positional therapy – Methods used to change people’s sleeping position with a view to reducing their snoring or sleep apnea.

Post nasal drip – Mucus dripping from the nasal cavities down the back of the throat.

Pulse oximetry – The process of measuring blood oxygen saturation. This is usually done by shining infrared light through the fingernail via a specialised finger clamp.

Rebound congestion – The congestion side effect experienced with overuse of nasal decongestants.

Reflux – Literally meaning “backflow” this describes the movement of stomach acid back up the oesophagus. This can sometimes manifest as “airway reflux” which can inflame the airway and worsen snoring.

REM – Stands for “rapid eye movement”, a period in sleep where the eyes are moving quickly from side to side. This is a lighter stage of sleep where most dreaming is done. READ MORE

Retrognathia – A recessed lower jaw. This is an inherited anatomical trait that can predispose snoring as it reduces the space in the upper airway. READ MORE

Rhinitis – Nasal inflammation; includes swelling, sneezing and excess mucus.

Rhinitis medicamentosa – (See “Rebound Congestion”)

Rhinorrhea – A runny nose.

Saline – A mixture of salt and water. This is often used for nasal irrigation in a spray or a neti pot.

Screening test – Questionnaires used to assess your risk of a condition, in this case, obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea – A condition where you repeatedly stop breathing in your sleep (see Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea).

Sleep hygiene – The practise of good sleeping habits to give you as restful sleep as possible. This includes things like keeping your room dark and at a certain temperature, showering before bed and not eating too much before sleeping.

Sleep study – A test done in a specialist clinic or at home to help diagnose potential sleep disorders such as sleep apnea (see PSG).

Soft palate – The soft tissue behind and below the roof of your mouth, but above the uvula.

Steroid nasal spray – A type of nasal spray that reduces nasal inflammation. Can be suitable for treating allergic and non-allergic rhinitis, as well as reducing the size of nasal polyps. READ MORE

Stertor – A respiratory sound, a snore.

StopBANG – An eight question screening test to assess your risk of obstructive sleep apnea. TAKE THE TEST

Supine sleeping – Lying on your back. READ MORE

TMD/TMJ – Stands of “temporomandibular joint disorder”, the jaw pain sometimes experienced with anti-snoring mouthpieces if not fitted correctly.

Tongue retainer – A type of snoring mouthpiece that uses suction to hold the tongue forward to prevent it causing an obstruction in the airway. READ MORE

Topical – Refers to a medication applied directly to the site where its effects are desired, e.g. a topical nasal spray.

Uvula – The dangling tissue at the back of the throat.

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