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What Causes Snoring?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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As you’re lying in bed listening to the sawing (snoring) away of a partner, you may be driven to wonder what could possibly cause these sounds to be emitted from a person, who when awake, is relatively quiet. You also may be driven to kick said partner, or at least attempt to roll him or her over, which can sometimes temporarily end snoring. While you’re mulling over the snoring, listen very well. If your snoring partner stops breathing for a few seconds, he or she could be experiencing sleep apnea, a quite dangerous condition. Sleep apnea is cause for concern and warrants seeing a doctor who specializes in sleeping disorders.

If, on the other hand, your snoring partner appears to breathe regularly, you might consider several other potential causes for snoring. People with colds or allergies frequently have trouble with snoring. Congestion in the nose makes it more difficult to breathe and can result in loud snorts and sniffs. Many with chronic allergies are chronic snorers because they deal with long-term congestion.

Also people with allergies may have swelling of both the adenoids and tonsils. Some folks also have chronic swelling of these due to minor, chronic infections. When such is the case, removing tonsils and adenoids usually ends snoring.

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You might think that a little antihistamine before bedtime would fix the snoring issues of a person suffering from allergies. In fact the reverse is true. Taking medications like benadryl, and most over the counter sleep medicines actually worsen snoring. Prescribed sleep medications, and any sedatives may translate to more snores, and those who consume alcohol before bed are likely to snore sonorously. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are also responsible for snoring.

If your partner has put on a little or a lot of extra weight, snoring is likely to occur or worsen. Fat and skin tissue in the neck puts pressure on the airway, making nighttime breathing more challenging. Sometimes, people who are overweight are helped by sleeping on one side, which cuts down on direct vertical pressure on the airway. People who sleep on their backs may snore more.

Among the many unglamorous aspects of pregnancy is snoring, especially during the last few months. This may be due in part to weight gain, and also to increased nasal congestion. Pregnant women are also advised not to sleep on their backs during the last couple of months of pregnancy, since this position may not be a good one for the unborn child.

A few causes of snoring may be addressed surgically. Some people snore due to a deviated septum in the nose. This can prevent breathing normally and result in nasal snorting or snoring. Other physiological differences may not be easily addressed. For example, men snore more frequently than women because the air passage in their throats is narrower than women’s air passages. A large soft uvula may also be a causal factor.

A few things can help some snorers stop. For those who are overweight, even if only by a few pounds, exercise is key and some notice an almost overnight change. Firmer pillows may better stabilize the neck. Some people do benefit from nasal strips or throat spray to cut down on snores and side sleeping is definitely recommended as well.

If you sleep alone, you may not realize whether or not you have sleep apnea. Frequent waking during the night can suggest sudden episodes of apnea. If you are tired all the time during the day, even after a full night’s sleep, a doctor should investigate this. Especially if you doze off during the day, this can indicate sleep apnea, a very serious and potentially life threatening condition that can be treated by sleep specialists.

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Discuss this Article

anon987342
Post 7

I used to snore really bad, but I tried Theravent EPAP and it actually cleared it up a lot for me. Like right off the bat.

maxmay
Post 6

If you want to sleep on your back and not snore, just tilt your head towards the wall on your side. Don't look at the ceiling.

I have a gizmo, a little larger than quarter dollar, and not heavier than a quarter dollar. This gizmo vibrates when I don't tilt my head enough. I use medical tape to fix it on my forehead before I go to bed. It has saved my life because I also suffer from severe obstructive sleep apnea.

anon235061
Post 5

Is it true that snoring is associated with heart problems?

drchazfost
Post 4

Obviously there are several different causes of the snoring problem. There are several measures that can be tried to address the different causes. Weight loss, changing position, pillows, mattress, strips for the bridge of the nose and nutritional supplementation are all safe and inexpensive avenues to pursue.

However, if the cause of snoring is the result of loss of tone of the soft palate and associated tissues, and this loss of tone is caused by irritated nerves from vertebral subluxation, then the only thing that will help in this case is a chiropractic adjustment to address the subluxatioin and nerve irritation.

Charles F., Chiropractor, Rutland and Brandon, VT

cafe41
Post 3

Sneakers41 -I wanted to add that you can use a humidifier in order to lower the chances of someone snoring.

Also, there are dental devices like a snoring mouthpiece that you can place in your mouth that prevent you from snoring. You can even go as far as having snoring surgery that can open your airways so that you will not snore again.

There are a lot of ways to learn how to stop snoring. It just depends what you are comfortable with.

sneakers41
Post 2

I know that snoring is a big problem for a lot of people. I read that certain things can reduce the instances of snoring.

I know that if you lose weight or sleep in another position besides your back it will improve your chances of not snoring.

Also if you avoid caffeine or big meals this can also cut down on the potential snoring episodes.

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