Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound, due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. In some cases the sound may be soft, but in other cases, it can be loud and unpleasant.
Causes of Snoring
Obstructed airways are the main cause of snoring. Poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat can cause the throat tissues and soft palate to sag, blocking the airways and preventing air from passing through smoothly. Bulky, excess throat tissue is also found in people who are overweight, and in children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Physical abnormalities – a long soft palate or uvula, for instance – can also cause vibrations in the throat.
Side effects of snoring may include daytime drowsiness difficulty concentrating, restless sleep, sore throat, gasping or choking at night, and high blood pressure. It can be loud enough to keep your partner awake, putting a strain on your relationship. Many people who snore suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous condition characterized by repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night.
Many people view snoring as a nuisance, but it can be a serious problem, both medically and socially. It interrupts sleep and prevents your body from receiving the solid rest it needs. This, in turn, causes daytime sleepiness and a loss of concentration, which may result in poor job performance. Obstructive sleep apnea makes the heart work harder, and can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Fortunately, treatments are available, so if snoring is affecting you or your partner, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Snoring is often treatable by making certain lifestyle changes. Diet and exercise can help you shed pounds, eliminating excess throat muscle and tissue. Try not to consume alcohol close to bedtime; it causes your throat muscles to relax, which can lead to snoring. Sleep on your side instead of your back, and elevate your head a few inches to lessen your odds of snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea is usually treated with a device called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A mask is worn during sleep, and the machine emits a constant, steady stream of air pressure, to keep your breathing regular. Other devices, such as oral mouth guards that reposition the jaw, can be helpful. Surgical procedures to eliminate excess tissue may also be an option.