What Causes Snoring?

Snoring is one of the most common sleep problems affecting close to 90 million American adults, 37 million of who suffer from it on a regular basis. While overweight males are the most vulnerable segment, snoring can affect people of both genders. Though common, not many know what causes snoring.

Because of lack of knowledge of what causes snoring, people seek random remedies to cure the problem, which might work temporarily, but returns sooner than envisaged. Untreated snoring is linked to daytime dysfunction as well as cardiovascular disease.

The irony of the situation is that snorers hate snoring as much as those who share the same bed or room with them. The low grating or loud noise generated every night is more than just a nuisance. Other than causing relationship problems, etc, depending on what causes snoring, the problem could eventually lead to:

–          Focusing problems

–          Raise in blood pressure

–          Increase risk of heart failure and stroke

–          Increase risk of behavior problems, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in children with obstructive sleep apnea

–          Increase risk of road accidents due to inadequate sleep

What happens during snoring? 

During sleep all muscles of the body, include muscles responsible for breathing relax. During this relaxed state, some of the muscles of the throat, tongue, soft palate and uvula may collapse and block normal airflow. When the muscles of the throat relax, the tongue falls backwards and the air passage becomes narrow due to blockage. When such muscles start to vibrate, it leads to the characteristic sounds of snoring. 

What causes snoring?

–          Weak muscles of the throat making them vulnerable to collapse during sleep

–          Wrong alignment of jaws, mostly caused by muscle tension

–          Fat accumulation in the throat muscle

–          Nasal obstruction caused by anatomical defects like crooked, bent or deformed nasal septum.

–          Obstructive sleep apnea

–          Alcohol consumption that relaxes the throat muscles.

–          Sleeping on the back that causes throat muscles to recede towards the back of the mouth.

–          Being overweight causes excess neck tissues putting pressure on the airways

–          Swelling of tissues during last month of pregnancy

–          Nasal congestion caused by colds or allergies

–          Inflammation of soft palate or uvula

–          Blockage of airways by inflammation of tonsils or adenoids

–          Use of drugs like antihistamines and sleeping pills at bed time

–          Nasal polyps

–          Enlarged tongue compared to the mouth

–          Bone abnormalities of the face

–          The mouth anatomy plays a critical role in blocking the air passage. A low thick soft palate or tissues in the back of the throat (adenoids) can cause narrowing of the air pipe. Similarly, if the uvula is elongated, it may cause airway obstruction.

Knowing what causes snoring is the key to cure 

As is evident snoring can be caused by a variety of factors. There is no universal remedy that addresses all these causes. Therefore, to find the right remedies one need to know the precise reason for snoring.

Physical examination, imaging including X-ray and a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is usually recommended to diagnose the cause of snoring. If the condition is severe, the snoring doctor may also recommend a sleep study for an in-depth analysis of the problem.

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