Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Why Do People Snore?

The snoring sound comes from the vibration of soft tissue at the back of the throat when the airway is narrowed. The narrowing may be from:
    • An excess of tissue in the throat causing the airway to collapse when the person inhales. This is the most common "culprit" of snoring.
    • A deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, chronic sinus infections or allergies which cause swelling of the nasal passages.
    • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids may also cause obstruction of the airway.

During sleep, the body's muscles relax, which can cause excess tissue to collapse into the upper airway (back of the mouth, nose and throat) and block breathing. When breathing is interrupted, the body reacts by waking just enough to start breathing again. These arousals may occur hundreds of times each night but they do not fully awaken the patient, who remains unaware of the loud snoring and gasping for air typically associated with obstructive sleep apnea.

Habitual snoring is often a precursor of more serious upper airway disorders and results from a recent study indicate that one in three men and nearly one in five women who snore habitually suffer from some degree of obstructive sleep apnea.