Loud snoring may be just a nuisance (as it can disrupt the life and sleep of a bed partner). In some individuals, though, it is one of the signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Individuals who are obese, sleepy during the daytime, or who are witnessed to stop breathing during sleep need an evaluation by a sleep specialist.

What causes snoring?
Snoring is a result of an obstruction or blockage to the flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. When the tongue and soft palate meet, vibration occurs causing snoring. People who snore may suffer from:

-Poor muscle tone: Alcohol and drugs can relax muscles in the tongue and throat. This can also happen during deep sleep.

-Bulkiness of the throat tissue: Children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore as well as overweight people.

-Long soft palate and/or uvula: A long palate and uvula narrows the opening from the nose into the throat resulting in snoring during relaxed breathing

-Obstructed nasal airways: A stuffy or blocked nasal airway requires extra effort to breathe through it and snoring results

-Deformities: Deformities of the nose or nasal septum can create an obstruction in the nasal airway.

-Sleep Apnea: This is a serious condition in which your throat tissues obstruct your airway, preventing you from breathing. It is characterized by loud snoring followed by periods of silence. These episodes cause you to wake up. This forces your airway to open causing a loud snort or gasp. This pattern is repeated many times throughout the night.

Is snoring serious?
Yes. Besides causing the snorer and bed partner many sleepless nights, it disturbs sleep patterns depriving the snorer (and bed partner!) of the appropriate rest. If the snoring is a manifestation of sleep apnea, it can cause serious, long-term health problems.

Can loud snoring be cured?
Individuals with heavy loud snoring should be evaluated by their physician. Often times a referral to a sleep specialist is necessary to rule out sleep apnea. The sleep specialist will take a medical history and perform a physical examination. An overnight sleep study (polysomnography) may be ordered to determine how serious the snoring is. Results of the study will be interpreted by the sleep physician and shared with the patient. Treatment will be determined based on the results of the study.


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