Snoring is the often loud or harsh sound that can occur as you sleep. You snore when the flow of air as you breathe makes the tissues in the back of your throat vibrate. The sound most often occurs as you breathe in air, and can come through the nose, mouth or a combination of the two. It can occur during any stage of sleep.
About half of people snore at some point in their lives. Snoring is more common in men, though many women snore. It appears to run in families and becomes more common as you get older. About 40 percent of adult men and 24 percent of adult women are habitual snorers. Men become less likely to snore after the age of 70.
Sleeping on your back may make you more likely to snore. It may also occur as your throat muscles relax from use of alcohol or other depressants. Congestion from a cold or allergies can also cause you to snore.
Snoring can be a nuisance to your partner and anyone else nearby. You may even snore loudly enough to wake yourself up. Though, in many cases people do not realize that they snore. Snoring can also cause you to have a dry mouth or sore or irritated throat when you wake up.
Light snoring may not disrupt your overall sleep quality. Heavy snoring may be associated with obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder and a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many other health problems.
Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea
Snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea but not everyone who snores has the sleep disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes you to temporarily stop breathing when you are asleep. If you are regularly tired during the day even though you have had sufficient sleep or if your snoring is paired with choking or gasping sound, you may have sleep apnea. A sleep medicine physician is trained to detect and diagnose sleep apnea using an in-lab sleep study or home sleep testing. Sleep apnea is manageable using several approaches including CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), oral appliance therapy and surgery.
Obesity, Pregnancy and Genetic Factors
Extra tissue in the throat can vibrate as you breathe in air in your sleep, causing you to snore. People who are overweight, obese or pregnant often have extra bulky throat tissue. Genetic factors that can cause snoring include extra throat tissue as well as enlarged tonsils, large adenoids, long soft palate or long uvula.
Allergies, Congestion and Certain NasalStructures.
Anything that prevents you from breathing through your nose can cause you to snore.
This can include congestion from a cold or flu, allergies or deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum.
Alcohol, smoking, aging and certain drugs and medications, including muscle relaxants.
You may snore when your throat or tongue muscles are relaxed. Substances that can relax these muscles may cause you to snore. This includes alcohol, muscle relaxants and other medications. Normal aging and the prolonged effects of smoking can also relax your throat and tongue muscles.
The primary symptom of snoring is unmistakable - the often loud, harsh or hoarse noises that you make while you are asleep. Other symptoms may include waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth.
If you have any of the following symptoms you may have sleep apnea:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Choking or gasping while you sleep
- Pauses in breathing
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Moodiness, irritability or depression
- Frequent need to urinate during the night