Dr. Noah Siegel with patient

Snoring

Overall, snoring is pretty common—affecting up to 40 percent of men and 20 percent of women. It occurs when air flow passes relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to flutter as you breathe and produce sound. At its best, it's a nuisance—especially for your sleep partner—but at it's worst, it could be a sign of an underlying, more serious problem such as sleep apnea.

Not all who snore have sleep apnea or another condition, however, snoring is a symptom often experienced by those with sleep disorders, so it is best to identify the cause to your snoring with a sleep specialist.

Causes

When you lie down to sleep, your body position changes and your muscles relax. As a result, the tissues of your upper airways narrow and if the airway narrows sufficiently, the tissues will flutter as air passes through them. The noise that we hear is snoring.

Snoring is commonly associated with weight. As an individual’s weight increases, there is a greater chance that their airway will narrow when they sleep.

Symptoms

The primary sign of snoring is the generation of noise during sleep. Associated signs of snoring may also include swelling in the back of the throat upon waking up, morning dry mouth, and morning headaches.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis is often made by a bed partner or observer who has heard noise while you sleep. For those who've been told they snore, it is highly recommended you obtain a sleep study to ensure that your snoring is not a symptom of a more serious disorder. Even when people don’t clearly stop breathing, they still can be having respiratory events that put stress on the body. If no underlying cause is found for your snoring, physicians usually recommend wearing nasal strips that help increase air pressure in the upper airway or in some cases, certain mouth guards.

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