Complete Snoring Guide
What is Snoring?
Snoring is usually caused by one of several factors – drinking alcohol, allergies, illnesses, weight, and anatomical features are just a few. Snoring happens when the muscles in your mouth, tongue, and throat relax and partially block your airway. The blockage creates vibrations in your muscles that causes snoring to occur.
Snoring can be disruptive to sleep. Depending on how loudly, intensely, and regularly a sleeper snores, it can disrupt a sleeper’s own rest or their partner’s quality of sleep. Most people snore at some point, but snoring regularly is usually due to an underlying sleep related condition. If you or a partner snore while sleeping, it is important to understand what causes snoring and whether it needs to be or can be addressed by a medical professional, especially if it is causing sleep deprivation.
Partners of snorers will typically make it
known if their loved one is snoring.
Signs and Symptoms
Partners of snorers will typically make it known if their loved one is snoring. If you do not have a partner or your partner does not know whether you snore, then there are a few signs and symptoms to watch for that may suggest that you snore while sleeping. Signs and symptoms of snoring include:
- Your sleep partner wakes up because of your snoring.
- Your sleep partner witnesses pauses in your breathing during sleep.
- You wake up gasping or choking.
- Chest pain in the evening
- Restless sleep
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat in the morning
- Daytime drowsiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure
Snoring occurs anytime air is blocked from flowing freely through your airway when you sleep. Whenever your airway is partially blocked, the passage of air creates vibrations in the muscles and tissues in your throat, mouth, and nose. Those vibrations result in the sound we know as snoring. There are a variety of medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can cause you to snore on a regular basis.
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea, or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is a sleep related disorder that usually causes snoring. In fact, OSA is known for loud snoring and pauses in breathing. Most people with OSA snore. Fortunately, there are measures to help treat OSA symptoms, including snoring.
- Anatomy: The anatomy of your throat, mouth, and nose can cause snoring too. A deviated septum, nasal polyps, small jaw, or enlarged tongue and tonsils can result in snoring.
- Congestion: Snoring caused by a stuffy nose is usually temporary. Colds, allergies, or other infections can cause a stuffy nose and lead to temporary snoring. Other causes of stuffy noses, such as environmental factors or your anatomy may cause habitual snoring.
- Alcohol: Alcohol relaxes your muscles, including those in your throat, mouth, and nose. Because these muscles support your airway, your airway can be partially blocked whenever you drink alcohol.
- Smoking: Smoking is considered a risk factor for snoring, but researchers are still working to understand the relationship between smoking and snoring.
- Obesity: Extra weight due to obesity can cause extra tissue to build up around your neck. This extra tissue may cause blockages or a collapse of your airway which, in turn, can cause snoring.
- Age: As we age, the muscles in our throat, mouth, and nose can become weaker. This weakness means that our airway is less supported than it was when we were younger. As a result of aging and weakness, snoring can occur.
Depending on the cause, it is possible to treat and fully resolve snoring. Although some causes of snoring can be resolved through lifestyle changes, many underlying conditions require diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional. If you or your sleep partner struggle to sleep well because of persistent snoring, you should seek diagnosis and treatment from a sleep specialist. A sleep specialist can help determine whether you have an underlying medical condition, such as sleep apnea.
If your snoring is caused by medical or anatomical conditions, then it may require treatment from a CPAP machine, surgery, or other medical or dental devices. In contrast, if your lifestyle and habits are causing you to snore, then simple lifestyle changes can alleviate your snoring. In this case, you may be able to resolve snoring simply by avoiding alcohol and smoking or by losing weight.
Snoring can be highly disruptive to you or your sleep partner’s ability to sleep. If you feel tired throughout the day or do not sleep well because of snoring, you may need to see a medical professional to diagnose and treat your snoring. Fortunately, snoring is treatable so there is hope for better sleep.