Stanford Sinus Center
What is snoring?
Snoring is the sound that occurs during sleep when flow of air is obstructed in the area where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring noises occur when these structures vibrate against each other during breathing.
It is estimated that 45 percent of all adults snore occasionally, and 25 percent habitually snore. Snoring is more common in males and people who are overweight.
Snoring is obstructed breathing. In addition to disturbed sleep patterns and sleep deprivation, other serious health problems may result. Snoring may also be a symptom of other medical conditions.
What causes snoring?
Snoring may be caused by many factors, including:
- poor muscle tone
- excessively bulky throat tissue
- long soft palate
- long uvula
- stuffed or blocked nasal passages
- deformities of the nose
- deformities of the nasal septum
Can snoring be prevented?
Mild or occasional snoring may be helped by:
- a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and proper diet
- losing weight
- avoiding tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime
- avoiding alcohol at least four hours before bedtime
- avoiding heavy meals at least three hours before bedtime
- establishing regular sleeping patterns
- sleeping on your side
- tilting the head of the bed up about 4 inches
Heavy or chronic snoring may require medical care.
Treatment for snoring
Specific treatment for snoring will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disorder
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disorder
- your opinion or preference
Treatment may include a nasal mask that provides continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), or surgery.