About This Condition
Snoring is caused by the movement of air across the soft tissues in the mouth or throat, such as the uvula, soft palate, and sometimes the vocal cords.
Any restriction of airflow, as occurs with nasal congestion, asthma, or polyps, increases the likelihood of snoring. Simple snoring is usually without health consequences, but inadequate sleep quality and quantity, nighttime dips in the body’s oxygen levels,1 and headaches2 sometimes accompany snoring. In addition, an association between snoring and heart disease has been established.3,4 When the resistance to airflow in the airways becomes so great as to cause significant interruptions in breathing, it is known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea represents a more serious health concern than simple snoring;5 therefore, chronic snoring, which can be associated with sleep apnea, should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
People with snoring may make a rough, rattling, noisy sound while breathing in during sleep.
Healthcare practitioners may recommend avoidance of alcoholic beverages, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and overeating before bedtime. Sleeping on one side, rather than on the back, or raising the head of the bed may provide benefit. Weight loss is helpful, especially for people who are obese. Allergies and nasal infections are treated when detected. Surgery may be recommended to correct structural problems with the airway, such as enlarged tonsils and adenoids or a deviated nasal septum.