Snoring is an audible and typically recurrent sound that is produced by some sleepers. It is more common in men, and is much more likely to occur as we get older. One study has shown that more than 60% of men and ore than 405 of women over the age of 60 describe themselves as regular snorers. While gentle snoring usually does not give rise to many complaints, loud snoring can be quite annoying to one’s spouse or bed partner, and can be the source of strained relationship. Historical sources note that some men have been shot in their sleep by neighbors who could no longer tolerate their snoring.

Snoring sounds are produced by air passing over the soft tissue in the upper airway as the sleeper breathes in and out. Snoring occurs during sleep, and not during wakefulness, because the muscle that keeps the upper airway open automatically relax during sleep. The soft tissue in the airway actually sag down into the airway opening, and the air passing over these areas causes them to vibrate and make that unmistakable snoring sound.

Risk factor for snoring include: obesity, hypothyroidism, and tobacco use. Some people are born with small or narrow airway, while others have conditions that interfere with normal breathing. In either case, snoring is more likely to occur. Snoring can also arise from sleep deprivation, with common cold or allergies, when sleeping on one’s back or as a result of the use of alcohol or certain sleeping pills.

Most snoring probably is not associated with health concerns, but is a problem that snorers and their loved ones would like to resolved. Simple treatment include weight loss, avoidance of alcohol or sleep aids that relax muscles, treatment of nasal congestion or allergies, or the use of over the counter devices such as tape strips that help open your nasal passages. Every spouse of snorer can tell you that sleeping on your side also reduces likelihood of snoring. Some people can sleep on their sides at will; others might want to try using an old tennis ball sewn into the center of the back of a T-shirt, which reminds the sleeper to roll over whenever he is on his back. Oral appliances, usually fit by a dentist, may be helpful. Finally, a variety of surgical procedures provided by ENT specialist can provide a long-term solution to the problem of snoring.

Snoring actually may be a health concern for some. Medical reports have shown that snoring is associated with sleep apnea. Approximately 5 out of every 100 snorers have sleep apnea, a very serious medical condition that is associated with breathing pauses during sleep. People with sleep apnea often suffer from debilitating fatigue and sleepiness and they are at significantly greater risk than others for stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and death. The treatment plan for a person with sleep apnea is quite different from one for an individual with simple snoring, so medical evaluation and follow-up care is essential.

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