Snoring

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Snoring facts

  • Snoring is caused by vibrating tissues within the airways of the nose and throat.
  • The vibrations that cause snoring are caused by turbulent airflow through narrowed airways.
  • Snoring is affected by the stage of sleep, sleeping position, and the use of medications and alcohol.
  • Snoring may be a problem for family members and sleeping partners of the snorer.
  • Snoring also may be a sign of an underlying medical problem.
  • Treatments for snoring are nonsurgical and surgical.

What is snoring?

Snoring, like all other sounds, is caused by vibrations that cause particles in the air to form sound waves. For example, when we speak, our vocal cords vibrate to form our voice. When our stomach growls (borborygmus), our stomach and intestines vibrate as air and food move through them.

While we are asleep, turbulent airflow can cause the tissues of the palate (roof of the mouth) and throat to vibrate, giving rise to snoring. Essentially, snoring is a sound resulting from turbulent airflow that causes tissues to vibrate during sleep.

How common is snoring?

Any person can snore. Studies estimate that 45% of men and 30% of women snore on a regular basis. Frequently, people who do not regularly snore will report snoring after a viral illness, after drinking alcohol, or when taking some medications.

People who snore can have any body type. We frequently think of a large man with a thick neck as a snorer. However, a thin woman with a small neck can snore just as loudly. In general, as people get older and as they gain weight, snoring will worsen.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/17/2013

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