Causes, Risks & Treatment Options
45% of adults snore at least occasionally, and 25% are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in men and those who are overweight, and it often worsens with age. Nasal allergies, heartburn and other factors can also contribute to problem snoring.
Causes of Snoring
Snoring occurs when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This obstruction causes turbulent air flow which produces vibrations of the soft tissue. Snoring is the sound generated from this vibration.
A number of factors may contribute to snoring, including:
- The anatomy of your mouth. A thickened or floppy soft palate or an elongated uvula can narrow your airway and obstruct airflow. Enlarged tonsils or a large tongue base may also cause blockages. These symptoms can often be remedied through minimally-invasive treatments.
- Nasal congestion. Nasal congestion caused by allergies or a deviated septum can also obstruct your breathing.
- Being overweight. Extra mass in the neck and throat can narrow the airway, making it harder to breathe clearly.
- Alcohol consumption. Alcohol before bedtime further relaxes muscles in the throat, making obstruction and snoring more likely.
Snoring can cause embarrassment and disrupt the sleep of loved ones. It can place immense strain on relationships while driving spouses to sleep separately from their partner. But snoring is also a medical issue, disrupting sleep patterns and depriving the snorer of appropriate rest.
In addition to the noise and discomfort of snoring, problem snorers and their sleep partners may also experience:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Sore throat
- Relationship problems
- Restless sleep
- Trouble concentrating
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Gasping or choking during sleep
Is Snoring Life Threatening?
There is strong evidence that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increases one's risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and other diseases. It also increases your chances of dying earlier.
New studies have shown that habitual snoring, even without sleep apnea, can increase your chances of stroke and premature death. So, even "simple snoring" should be evaluated and treated whenever possible.
Snoring Remedies & Lifestyle Changes
Minor or casual snoring problems can often be improved with changes to your lifestyle or activities. The following tips may help improve your snoring:
- Diet & Exercise. Extra body weight contributes to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Proper diet and exercise are the mainstays for a healthy lifestyle, although many Americans turn to costly fad diets and exercise programs that fail to provide sustainable weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. The basic tenets to gradual weight loss and good health include developing healthy eating habits and increasing daily physical activity, which can improve your snoring.
- Sleeping on your side. Sleeping on your back can allow your tongue to press back against your throat and obstruct proper airflow. To encourage side sleeping, try sewing a tennis ball to the back of a pajama top.
- Treat nasal allergies and congestion. Nasal congestion can block airflow and cause snoring, so try to treat allergies before they become severe, or consider coblation turbinate reduction.
- Reduce sedatives and alcohol. Avoid alcoholic beverages and sleeping aids before going to bed. If you have trouble falling asleep, increased exercise and activity can help.
If these remedies fail to improve your sleep quality or snoring, you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive, office based treatment options.
Learn more about snoring treatments.