No one really thinks they snore, but truth be told around half of adults snore at one time or another. Snoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe. The result is the buzzsaw that is snoring. Snoring can simply be a source of irritation for our partner, or it can be a sign of a serious health condition.
Dr. Volpi is a snoring specialist at New York ENT, and he is dedicated to finding the causes of your snoring and treating them.
Is it sleep apnea?
If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you will snore, but it’s not necessarily the other way around. Sometimes, temporary issues such as congestion from a cold can make a person who normally doesn’t snore snore. When the congestion clears, so does the snoring. The same is true of having a little too much to drink. But when your snoring is accompanied by any of these symptoms, it’s time to call us for an evaluation:
- Excessive daytime drowsiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Noise during sleep
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat
- Restless sleep
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- High blood pressure
- Snoring loud enough to disrupt a partner’s sleep
- You wake yourself with choking
What causes snoring?
Snoring can’t always be traced to a single cause. Many factors, such as the configuration of your mouth/sinuses, allergies, illness, alcohol consumption, and obesity, can lead to snoring.
When you progress from light sleep into deeper sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (clinically known as your soft palate), tongue, and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax to a degree that they partially block your airway and create vibration. The narrower your airway becomes, the more forceful the airflow becomes. This leads to more tissue vibration, which makes louder snoring.
These conditions can cause snoring:
- Your anatomy — If you’re overweight, you may have extra tissue in the back of your throat. Your uvula may be elongated. You may have a low, thick, soft palate.
- Alcohol — Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and decreases the body’s natural defenses against airway obstruction.
- Nasal problems — Chronic nasal congestion or a deviated septum can lead to snoring.
- Sleep position — Snoring is loudest when a person is on his or her back, as gravity can narrow the airway.
- OSA — This serious condition involves your throat tissues partially or completely blocking your airway, preventing you from breathing for short periods of time throughout the night.