PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — To stop snoring, could a strong tongue be the secret?

In a Brazilian study, 39 adults ages 20 to 65 did nasal lavage — a flushing out of the nasal cavity — then they either did breathing exercises, or a series of mouth exercises for about eight minutes.

In the three month study, the breathing group had no change in snoring, but the mouth exercise group noticed a 36 percent decrease in snoring frequency, and almost a 60 percent decrease in the forcefulness of snoring.

“We’re not sure if the decrease in snoring actually improved the sleep apnea, but we do know it’s a good surrogate marker for improvement,” says Dr. Marc Itskowitz.

Four exercises are involved: 1) Push your tongue up against the roof of your mouth, then slide your tongue back. 2) Press your tongue up entirely against the roof of your mouth. 3) Press the tip of your tongue against the bottom front teeth, and push the bottom of your tongue against the floor of your mouth. And 4) while saying “ahhh” lift the back part of the roof of your mouth.

“I think if someone really wants to make sure they’re doing it right, they probably have to do it with some good instruction either from a physician or a nurse to make sure they’re doing it properly,” Dr. Itskowitz adds.

Any activity that opens up the airway for more air flow is likely to be helpful, and there is nothing harmful about these exercises.

But this primary care physician says this small, short study is not enough to convince him to recommend the exercises to his patients.

“My concern with this type of approach is that patients are unlikely to continue to do it and may ignore their sleep apnea and may ignore some of the more established treatments like CPAP,” Dr. Itskowitz says.

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