An Overview of Snoring as a Medical Condition

Snoring is perhaps the most common sleep disorder, but the large majority of cases remain unmonitored by a medical professional. Snoring only once in a while—for example, when you feel sick or during allergy season—may not prompt a visit to a doctor’s office, but loud, deep snoring that persists over an extended period of time can be a sign that you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Obstructive sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder that causes the affected person to experience irregular pauses in breathing during sleep. Usually, these pauses are “caught” by a loud choking sound that transforms into a deep snore. The condition can be very distressing for both a patient’s health and well-being and that of his or her bed partners or family members. Just chronic snoring on its own can effectively reduce the quality of sleep a person receives and can prevent that person from ever achieving the deep sleep he or she needs to replenish the body with oxygen. Snoring as well as obstructive sleep apnea can worsen over time and as a person gets older.

To avoid possible complications of long-term sleep deprivation or daytime sleepiness, contact a sleep specialist to see if you have OSA and to find out if there is a type of sleep apnea treatment right for you. There are several different kinds of sleep apnea treatment, including CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), anti-snoring devices or oral appliances and snoring surgery. New technology has even made way for sleep apnea treatment in the form of snoring chin straps and anti-snore pillows. You can find mouthpiece snoring reviews online or consult with a doctor or dentist about your treatment options.

Causes of Snoring

Snoring can occur during any of the stages of sleep, REM or NREM. It is caused by obstruction of the airway passages in a person’s throat, nose or mouth. Obstruction is generally caused by congestion, nasal polyps or structural malformations or by the tissue from the tongue, adenoids and other organs. The most common cause of snoring is blockage of the airway passages by way of soft palate or uvula tissue at the back of a person’s mouth. The tongue might block the throat if the muscles are too relaxed, such as when a person is intoxicated, or if the muscles are weak and fall backward toward the throat when a person pays down to bed. Overweight patients or other patients who have abnormally large necks are more likely to snore at night. In children, large tonsil and adenoid tissue may obstruct the airway passages and cause snoring as well.  Get in touch with a sleep doctor if you'd like to learn more about snoring treatment options.