What is snoring?
heavily when they sleep. Others make a soft whistling sound, and
still others snore loudly.
Snoring doesn’t necessarily mean
that you have a medical condition, but it can sometimes be a sign of a serious sleep
disorder, including sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring followed
by a few seconds of quiet because of a pause in breathing. This is followed by another
loud sound, like a snort, then the snoring resumes.
Snoring is common—as many as 45% of
people snore sometimes, and 25% snore almost all the time. Men tend to snore more often
What causes snoring?
It's often hard to tell why one
person snores and another one doesn't. These are common causes of snoring:
Later stages of pregnancy
Irregularly shaped bones in the
Swelling of the tonsils and
Antihistamine or sleeping pill
Large base of the tongue or unusually
large tongue and small mouth
Congestion from allergies or a
Swollen areas inside the mouth
(including the uvula and soft palate)
Snoring by itself — when it's not a
symptom of a medical problem like sleep apnea — may not pose any physical risk. But it
can cause problems when sleeping in a room with your spouse or bed partner. Snoring can
affect your partner's sleep and trigger a number of problems caused by sleep
What are the symptoms of snoring?
People who snore make a vibrating,
rattling, noisy sound while breathing during sleep. It may be a symptom of sleep apnea.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea may include:
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Recent weight gain
Awakening in the morning not feeling
Awaking at night feeling confused
Change in your level of attention,
concentration, or memory
Observed pauses in breathing during
How is snoring diagnosed?
A doctor may run a few tests or
a sleep study to diagnose the significance of snoring, particularly if he or she
suspects sleep apnea. An ear nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) may examine
your throat and neck and the inside of your mouth to diagnose the cause of snoring.
To find out if your snoring could
be caused by a health problem, a doctor may ask questions about:
Volume and frequency of your
Sleep positions that make your snoring
Problems from affected sleep,
including feeling sleepy during the day or
with memory or concentration
Any history that you have temporarily
stopped breathing during sleep
How is snoring treated?
If your snoring is affecting your
sleep (or your partner's), your doctor may fit you with a dental device to keep your
tongue from blocking your airway. Losing weight can also help treat snoring. Some people
may need surgery to correct a blockage in the airway that's causing the snoring.
If sleep apnea is the cause of your
snoring, you may need to sleep in a mask connected to a CPAP (continuous positive airway
pressure) device. This device helps minimize snoring and maintain breathing while you
What are the complications of snoring?
affect your sleep, leaving you dragging the next day. Sleep apnea can be a dangerous
condition. In sleep apnea, you stop breathing for at least 10 seconds per episode and
on average more than 5 episodes per hour at night. Sleep apnea and inadequate sleep can
for you to think clearly and complete daily responsibilities. If you have sleep apnea
that goes untreated, long-term complications can include an enlarged heart and high
Can snoring be prevented?
Preparations before bedtime and a
few changes to your sleep style can help prevent or reduce snoring. Try these tips:
Use nasal strips (without medicine)
more air into the nostrils.
Don't drink alcohol or take a sedative
just before bedtime.
Maintain a healthy weight; work to
drop excess pounds.
on your side instead of on your back.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
Sleep apnea can be serious. Your doctor should evaluate any snoring that causes
daytime sleepiness or that affects your ability to think clearly. If your partner
hears you stop breathing during the night, call your doctor to see if sleep apnea is
Your sleep is nothing to take
lightly. Your doctor can help diagnose any potential medical conditions affecting your
sleep and find ways to minimize snoring to help you—and your partner—get a restful
It's often hard to tell why one person
snores and another one doesn't.
Men tend to snore more often than
Sleep apnea can be a dangerous
If sleep apnea goes untreated,
long-term complications can include an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.
Tips to help you get the most from
a visit to your healthcare provider:
Know the reason for your visit and
what you want to happen.
Before your visit, write down
questions you want answered.
Bring someone with you to help you ask
questions and remember what your provider tells you.
At the visit, write down the name of a
new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new
instructions your provider gives you.
Know why a new medicine or treatment
is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
Ask if your condition can be treated
in other ways.
Know why a test or procedure is
recommended and what the results could mean.
Know what to expect if you do not take
the medicine or have the test or procedure.
If you have a follow-up appointment,
write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
Know how you can contact your provider
you have questions.