What is snoring?
Snoring is the hoarse or harsh sound that occurs when your breathing is partially obstructed in some way while you are sleeping. The sound is caused by tissues at the top of your airway that strike each other and vibrate. Sometimes snoring may indicate a serious health condition. Snoring may occur nightly or intermittently.
When severe, snoring can cause frequent awakenings at night and daytime sleepiness. It can disrupt your bed partner’s sleep.
How common is snoring?
Snoring is extremely common. It commonly affects more males than females. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of Snoring?
The common symptoms of Snoring are:
- Noise during sleep;
- Excessive daytime sleepiness;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Morning headaches;
- Sore throat;
- Restless sleep;
- Gasping or choking at night;
- High blood pressure;
- Chest pain at night;
- Your snoring is so loud it’s disrupting your partner’s sleep.
- You wake up choking or gasping.
Snoring is often associated with a sleep disorder which was known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Not all snorers have OSA, but if snoring is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it may be an indication to see a doctor for further evaluation for OSA.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
If your child snores, asking your pediatrician about it. Children can have obstructive sleep apnea too. Nose and throat problems — such as enlarged tonsils — and obesity often can narrow a child’s airway, which can lead to your child developing sleep apnea.
What causes snoring?
Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. Air flow can be obstructed by a combination of factors, including:
- Obstructed nasal airways: Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum (a structural change in the wall that separates one nostril from the other) or nasal polyps can also cause obstruction.
- Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue: Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can result from deep sleep, alcohol consumption, or use of some sleeping pills. Normal aging causes further relaxation of these muscles.
- Bulky throat tissue: Being overweight can cause bulky throat tissue. Also, children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore.
- Long soft palate and/or uvula: A long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.
- Alcohol consumption: Snoring can also be brought on by consuming too much alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol relaxes throat muscles and decreases your natural defenses against airway obstruction.
- Sleep deprivation: Not getting enough sleep can lead to further throat relaxation.
- Sleep position: Snoring is typically most frequent and loudest when sleeping on the back as gravity’s effect on the throat narrows the airway.
- Obstructive sleep apnea: Snoring may also be associated with obstructive sleep apnea. In this serious condition, your throat tissues partially or completely block your airway, preventing you from breathing.
What increases my risk for snoring?
There are many risk factors for snoring, such as:
- Being a man: Men are more likely to snore or have sleep apnea than are women.
- Being overweight: People who are overweight or obese are more likely to snore or have obstructive sleep apnea.
- Having a narrow airway: Some people may have a long soft palate, or large tonsils or adenoids, which can narrow the airway and cause snoring.
- Drinking alcohol: Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, increasing the risk of snoring.
- Having nasal problems: If you have a structural defect in your airway, such as a deviated septum, or your nose is chronically congested, your risk of snoring is greater.
- Having a family history of snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is snoring diagnosed?
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will review your signs and symptoms, and your medical history. Your doctor will also perform a physical examination.
Your doctor may ask your partner some questions about when and how you snore to help assess the severity of the problem. If your child snores, you’ll be asked about the severity of your child’s snoring:
- Imaging: Your doctor may request an imaging test, such as an X-ray, a computerized tomography scan or magnetic resonance imaging, to check the structure of your airway for problems, such as a deviated septum.
- Sleep study: Depending on the severity of your snoring and other symptoms, your doctor may want to conduct a sleep study. Depending upon your other medical problems and other sleep symptoms, you can do your sleep studies at home or are required to do it at a sleep center. In polysomnography, you’re connected to many devices and observed overnight. During the sleep study, your brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate and breathing rate, sleep stages, and eye and leg movements will be recorded during your sleep.
How is Snoring treated?
To treat your condition, your doctor likely will first recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol close to bedtime, treating nasal decongestion, avoiding sleep deprivation and avoiding sleeping on your back.
For snoring caused by obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest:
- Oral appliances: Oral appliances are form-fitting dental mouthpieces that help advance the position of your jaw, tongue and soft palate to keep your air passage open. If you choose to use an oral appliance, visit your dental specialist at least once every six months during the first year, and then at least annually after that, to have the fit checked and to make sure that your condition is not worsening.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): This approach involves wearing a pressurized mask over your nose while you sleep. The mask is attached to a small pump that forces air through your airway, which keeps it open.
- Palatal implants: In this procedure, doctors inject braided strands of polyester filament into your soft palate, which stiffens it and reduces snoring.
- Traditional surgery: In a procedure called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), you’re given general anesthetics and your surgeon tightens and trims excess tissues from your throat — a type of face-lift for your throat.
- Laser surgery: In laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (LAUPPP), an outpatient surgery for snoring, your doctor uses a small hand-held laser beam to shorten the soft palate and remove your uvula. Removing excess tissue enlarges your airway and reduces vibration. You may need more than one session to get your snoring under control.
- Radiofrequency tissue ablation (somnoplasty). In this outpatient procedure, you’ll be given local anesthetic. Doctors use a low-intensity radiofrequency signal to shrink tissue in the soft palate to help reduce snoring. The effectiveness of this newer procedure needs further study. Generally, this procedure is less painful than other types of snoring surgery.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Snoring?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Snoring:
- If you’re overweight, lose weight: People who are overweight may have extra tissues in the throat that contribute to snoring. Losing weight can help eliminate snoring.
- Sleep on your side: Lying on your back allows your tongue to fall backward into your throat, narrowing your airway and partially obstructing airflow. Try sleeping on your side. If you find that you always end up on your back in the middle of the night, try sewing a tennis ball in the back of your pajama top.
- Raise the head of your bed: Raising the head of your bed by about 4 inches may help.
- Nasal strips or an external nasal dilator: Adhesive strips applied to the bridge of the nose help many people increase the area of their nasal passage, enhancing their breathing. A nasal dilator is a stiffened adhesive strip applied externally across the nostrils that may help decrease airflow resistance so you breathe easier. However nasal strips and external nasal dilators aren’t effective for people with sleep apnea.
- Treat nasal congestion or obstruction: Having allergies or a deviated septum can limit airflow through your nose. This forces you to breathe through your mouth, increasing the likelihood of snoring.
- Limit or avoid alcohol and sedatives: Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages at least two hours before bedtime, and let your doctor know about your snoring before taking sedatives. Sedatives and alcohol depress your central nervous system, causing excessive relaxation of muscles, including the tissues in your throat.
- Quit smoking: Smoking cessation may reduce snoring, in addition to having numerous other health benefits.
- Get enough sleep: Adults should aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. The recommended hours of sleep for children vary by age. Preschool-aged children should get 11 to 12 hours a day. School-age children need at least 10 hours a day, and teens should have nine to 10 hours a day.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
The Basics of Snoring. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/snoring. Accessed October 10 , 2016.
SNORING AND SLEEP. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/other-sleep-disorders/snoring. Accessed October 10, 2016.
Snoring http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/snoring/basics/definition/con-20031874. Accessed October 10, 2016.
Snoring http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Snoring/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed October 10, 2016.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017