Snoring is a very common condition that, while most often not serious, can be a nuisance for both the person snoring and their bed partner. Men and those who are overweight are more likely to snore, but snoring can affect anyone. Snoring is also more common during middle age, in those who smoke or are exposed to second hand smoke, when consuming alcohol or sedative medicines, with chronic nasal congestion such as colds or allergies, and with certain jaw abnormalities like a small chin and overbite.
Snoring is caused by airway obstruction, which may be due to a number of factors including allergies, sinus infection, deviated septum, nasal polyps, poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue, bulky throat tissue associated with excess weight, a long soft palate or a long uvula. Habitual snoring may be associated with sleep apnea which can lead to health problems like interrupted breathing, frequent waking from sleep, light sleeping and heart strain. Treatment often becomes necessary for habitual snorers whose snoring disrupts their own sleep as well as their partner’s sleep.
When seeking treatment for snoring, a sleep study may be necessary if sleep apnea is suspected. Lifestyle changes are often prescribed for the treatment of snoring and may include weight loss, quitting smoking, altering sleep habits, limiting alcohol and sedative use, treatment for nasal congestion, and/or the use of oral breathing devices. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or surgery may be advised if other attempts are not effective.