Snoring is the sound produced by obstructed breathing during
sleep. Snoring is not harmful but it can be a symptom of a
more serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea.
Snoring results when air cannot move freely through the air
passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This causes vibration
of the roof of the mouth and uvula, which creates the snoring
sound. The smaller airways, result in more obstruction, and
the louder the snoring. This airway obstruction can be caused
- Decreased muscle tone in the tongue and throat
- Enlarged tonsils, adenoids, or other obstructions (e.g.,
- Excessive tissue around the throat due to obesity
- Structural factors
- A long soft palate (roof of the mouth)
- A long uvula
- Deformities of the nose or nasal septum
- Small chin, overbite, or high palate (in women)
- Congested nasal passages from a cold, flu, sinus infection,
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting
a disease or condition.
- Sex: Male
- Being overweight
- Age: Over 50
The main symptom of snoring is noisy breathing during sleep.
The following symptoms may indicate that obstructive sleep
apnoea is causing the snoring:
- While sleeping:
- Pauses in breathing
- Suddenly awakening
- While awake:
- Sleepiness during the day
- Slowness in mental functioning
If your snoring is severe, the doctor will want to make sure
you do not have obstructive sleep apnoea. Diagnosis may involve:
- Physical exam of the throat, neck, mouth, and nose
- A sleep study in a laboratory to determine if snoring
is serious enough to disrupt sleep
In cases of simple snoring without sleep apnoea, lifestyle
changes will usually alleviate symptoms. More severe cases
may require surgery or devices.
Changes that may help stop snoring include:
- If you are overweight, lose weight.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking sedatives before bedtime.
- Sleep on your side rather than on your back. Try taping
a marble or tennis ball to your back before going to bed
to prevent rolling onto your back.
- Treat causes of nasal congestion such as allergies or
- Raise the head of the bed up about four inches. Use extra
pillows or put something under the mattress.
During surgery, a laser or scalpel can be used to remove excess
tissue that is blocking the airway. Treatment by laser surgery
requires a series of surgeries and is usually reserved for
severe and disruptive cases of snoring.
Devices that can open airways during sleep include:
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) involves
wearing a nasal device during sleep that maintains continuous
air pressure in the nose and upper throat to keep it open.
It is more commonly used for people with obstructive sleep
- Dental devices are put into the mouth during sleep to
position the soft palate for better breathing.
- Nasal strips help widen nasal passages.
You can take the following steps to help prevent snoring:
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Treat cold and allergy symptoms.
- Avoiding eating, drinking alcohol, or taking sedatives
for several hours before bedtime.
- Sleep on your side.