Snoring is a sound made during sleep. It is the sound of the throat vibrating as air flows through it.
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Air should be able to move easily through your mouth, nose, and throat. Sometimes, during sleep, air cannot move through these areas easily. This turbulent airflow makes the roof of the mouth vibrate. This is what causes the snoring sound. Smaller airways can lead to louder snoring. Airflow may be obstructed by:
This condition is more common in those over 50 years, especially men. Other factors include:
The main symptom of snoring is noisy breathing during sleep.
Snoring may be associated with a sleep condition called sleep apnea. Snoring with sleep apnea may cause these symptoms:
Call your doctor if you snore and you have other symptoms of sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor if you have regular snoring that is bothering you or your partner.
If your child is snoring regularly, talk to their doctor.
If your snoring is severe, the doctor will want to make sure you do not have obstructive sleep apnea. Diagnosis may involve:
In cases of snoring without sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may alleviate symptoms. More severe cases may require surgery or devices.
Changes that may help stop snoring include:
Surgery may be done to remove excess tissue in the nose or throat. During surgery, a laser or scalpel will remove the tissue that is blocking the airway. Treatment by laser surgery requires a series of surgeries. These surgeries are usually reserved for severe and disruptive cases of snoring.
Another procedure is to try to stiffen the roof of the mouth.
Devices that can open airways during sleep include:
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
Better Sleep Council Canada
Canadian Lung Association
McDonald JP. A review of surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome. Surgeon. 2003;1:259-264. Review.
Snoring. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/teeth/snoring.html. Updated January 2014. Accessed June 3, 2015.
Snoring and sleep apnea. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/snoring.cfm. Accessed June 3, 2015.
Obstructive sleep apnea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 19, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
Sher AE. Upper airway surgery for obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep Med Rev. 2002;6:195-212. Review.
Yaggi HK, Concato J, et al. Obstructive sleep apnea as a risk factor for stroke and death N Engl J Med. 2005;353:2034-2041.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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