Causes and Risks
Snoring is a common condition that affects people of all ages although it is shown to be more prevalent in men and people who are overweight. In many cases, snoring is nothing more than a nuisance that does little more than interrupt the sleep of your bed partner. However, people who are habitual snorers may impair their own sleep quality in addition to interrupting their partner’s sleep. In the event snoring is affecting your quality of sleep (and life), medical assistance may be needed.
Causes of Snoring
Snoring occurs when there is an obstructed flow of air through the mouth and nose. This tends to happen in the following ways:
- Obstructed nasal airway– This can result in snoring when you have a sinus infection or during allergy season. This can also happen if you have a deformity of the nose such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps.
- Weak throat and tongue muscles– If your throat and tongue muscles are too relaxed, they may collapse and fall back into the airway. This can be caused by deep sleep, alcohol consumption, and the use of some sleeping pills.
- Bulky throat tissue– A bulky throat tissue is often the result of an overweight patient.
- Long soft palate and/or uvula– A long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.
Risks of Snoring
The most common risk for habitual snorers is obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Sleep apnea can result in the partial or total obstruction of the airway during sleep. It may also cause the following:
- frequent awakening during sleep
- cause light sleep
- a strain on the heart which may lead to heart attack or stroke
- result in a poor night’s sleep that can effect your quality of life
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that should be addressed by a medical professional and is often first recognized by signs of heavy snoring. You should consider getting medical help for your snoring if you or your partner notices the following:
- loud snoring that disturbs the sleep of others or yourself
- shortness of breath that causes you to awaken from sleep
- intermittent pauses in breathing during sleep
- excessive daytime drowsiness
Ask your doctor about solutions to sleep apnea and snoring in the event you are showing any of the above symptoms.
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