Snoring: Causes, Complications, and Treatment


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Think your snoring is becoming problematic in terms of your own sleep quality or that of your bed partner? Learn more about the issue here!

Snoring while you sleep is very common, approximately 90 million American adults are impacted. People most at risk for snoring issues are males and those who are overweight. The two most common serious health effects that are believed to be casually linked to snoring are daytime dysfunction and heart disease. About one-half of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea. Although snoring is treated by many as a minor inconvenience, it’s a big deal when it comes to sleep quality. Letting snoring go unchecked can snowball into bigger health issues and also greatly impact your partner if you share the same bed. Nasal strips, specially designed mouth guards, and nasal sprays may help curb this problem!


When you fall into deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (or soft palate), tongue, and throat completely relax. This can cause tissue to partially block your airway and vibrate, which results in snoring.

Your mouth’s structure. Having a low, thick soft palate can narrow your airway. Overweight individuals may have extra tissues in the back of their throats that can also narrow their airways. If a person has an elongated uvula, airflow can be blocked and vibration increased.

Sleep position. Sleeping on your back narrows your airway thanks to gravity’s effect on the throat.

Alcohol consumption. Drinking too much before going to sleep relaxes throat muscles and decreases your natural defenses against airway obstruction.

Sleep deprivation. This can cause further throat relaxation.

Nasal issues. A deviated nasal septum or chronic nasal congestion may contribute to your snoring.


Left unchecked, snoring can become much more than just an annoyance. If snoring is associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you may be at risk for the following complications:

– Daytime sleepiness
– Frequent irritability
– Difficulty concentrating
– A greater risk of high blood pressure, heart conditions, and stroke.
– An increased risk of behavior problems, such as aggression or learning problems, in children with OSA.
– A higher risk of motor vehicle accidents due to lack of sleep.

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Snoring and OSA

Not all snorers have OSA, but if snoring is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, be sure to consult a medical professional.

– Breathing pauses during sleep (as reported by a partner)
– Excessive daytime sleepiness
– Difficulty concentrating
– Morning headaches
– Sore throat upon waking up
– Restless sleep
– Gasping or choking at night
– High blood pressure
– Chest pain at night
– Disrupting your bed partner’s sleep
– Poor performance in school or at work


Your doctor or sleep specialist may make these following recommendations:

– Lifestyle changes such as sleep position training, avoiding alcohol before bed, losing weight, etc.
– Surgery on the back of the throat, roof of the mouth, or the nose to correct issues.
– Using special oral/ nasal appliances or a CPAP machine, which blows air into the back of the throat to prevent collapsing, for sleep apnea.

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Learn more about common sleep disorders here and share this information with others! 

Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Sleep Foundation