Snoring is the hoarse or harsh sound that occurs when your breathing is partially obstructed in some way while you're sleeping. Sometimes snoring may indicate a serious health condition. In addition, snoring can be a nuisance to your partner.
As many as half of adults snore sometimes. Snoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe, which creates those irritating sounds.
Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol close to bedtime or sleeping on your side, can help stop snoring.
In addition, medical devices and surgery are available that may reduce disruptive snoring. However, these aren't suitable or necessary for everyone who snores.
Depending on the cause of your snoring, your symptoms may include:
When to see a doctor
These may indicate your snoring is caused by a more serious condition, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
If your child snores, ask your pediatrician about it. Children can have obstructive sleep apnea too. Nose and throat problems — such as enlarged tonsils — and obesity often can narrow a child's airway, which can lead to your child developing sleep apnea. Treating these conditions may help your child in many ways.
Many factors, such as the anatomy of your mouth and sinuses, alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, and your weight, can lead to snoring.
When you doze off and progress from a light sleep to a deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate. And, the more narrowed your airway, the more forceful the airflow becomes. This causes tissue vibration to increase, which causes your snoring to grow louder.
The following conditions can affect the airway and cause snoring:
Sleep apnea often is characterized by loud snoring followed by periods of silence when breathing stops or nearly stops. Eventually, this reduction or pause in breathing may signal you to wake up, and you may awaken with a loud snort or gasping sound. You may sleep lightly due to disrupted sleep. This pattern of breathing pauses may be repeated many times during the night.
People with sleep apnea usually experience periods when breathing slows or stops at least five times during every hour of sleep.
Snoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues, such as your tongue, soft palate and airway, as you breathe. The sagging tissues narrow your airway, causing these tissues to vibrate. ...
Risk factors that may contribute to snoring include:
Habitual snoring may be more than just a nuisance. Depending on the cause of your snoring, it may result in:
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to first see your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating sleep disorders or an ear, nose and throat specialist.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot to talk about, it's a good idea to arrive well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For snoring, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will review your signs and symptoms, and your medical history. Your doctor will also perform a physical examination.
Your doctor may ask your partner some questions about when and how you snore to help assess the severity of the problem. If your child snores, you'll be asked about the severity of your child's snoring.
In polysomnography, you're connected to many devices and observed overnight. During the sleep study, your brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate and breathing rate, sleep stages, and eye and leg movements will be recorded during your sleep.
When a home sleep study doesn't provide the needed information, polysomnography may be needed.
Treatments and drugs
To treat your condition, your doctor likely will first recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol close to bedtime and changing sleeping positions. If lifestyle changes don't eliminate snoring, your doctor may suggest:
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
To eliminate snoring and prevent sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a device called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP machine delivers just enough air pressure to a ...
Lifestyle and home remedies
To prevent or quiet snoring, try these tips:
Because snoring is such a common problem, there are numerous products available, such as nasal sprays or homeopathic therapies. However, most of the products haven't been proved effective in clinical trials. For example, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is marketed in a nose drop formula to treat snoring, but there's no evidence it has any effect on snoring.
Therapies that might help ease your snoring include:
Coping and support
If your partner is the one who's snoring, you may sometimes feel frustrated as well as fatigued. Suggest some of the home remedies mentioned, and if those don't help quiet your partner's nocturnal noisemaking, have your partner make a doctor's appointment.
Last Updated: 2012-11-07
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