The disruptive sound of snoring is a signal that the free flow of air through the respiratory system has become obstructed during sleep. It's a simple explanation, however, there are several ways the air passages might become obstructed, and it might take a little detective work to pinpoint the reason you are snoring. To help you understand why you, or someone you care about, may be snoring, we have outlined some common environmental and physical conditions that might be to blame. Perhaps one or more will apply to your situation.
Environmental Causes of Snoring
Alcohol – Drinking alcohol in excess, or drinking alcohol before bed, causes muscles in the throat to over relax, obstructing airflow. It also dulls the reflexes, diminishing ones ability to recognize and respond to discomfort by waking up or shifting position.
Allergies – Many of the symptoms you may experience with allergies are caused by inflammation, including itching eyes and throat, sinus pain and headaches, runny nose and watery eyes. Inflammation also causes snoring, as the tissue around the throat and sinuses become swollen and excess mucus is generated, blocking the airway.
Medication – The side effects of some medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – can cause irritation, inflamation or overrelaxation
Smoking – Smoking is an irritant and can contribute significantly to inflamation in respiratory system, progressively narrowing the airway which causes snoring.
Medical and Physical Causes of Snoring
Age – As we age, our tissues and membranes lose their tautness and elasticity. Looser tissue in the throat and soft pallate can result in a collapsed and diminished air passage.
Anatomical Abnormalities – Some of the physical or anatomical issues that can cause narrowing and obstruction of the airway or uneven airflow include: nasal polyps, deviated septum, scar tissue, large adenoids or tonsils, and enlarged tissues.
Apnea – Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious medical issue which should be diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor. A person with sleep apnea stops breathing during sleep often due to a physical blockage of their airway or because of the incorrect signals from the brain to the muscles that function during breathing
Infection, Flu, or Common Cold – Sinus congestion as a result of an infection can make breathing difficult, creating the perfect conditions for snoring.
Overweight or Obesity – Carrying excess weight, especially around the head and neck area, can cause the airways to narrow and collapse, especially when the body is reclined and relaxed during sleep.
Pregnancy – The rapid changes that come with pregnancy present many physical challenges, including snoring. For pregnant women, snoring can be cause by new weight gain, excess congestion, back sleeping, and pressure from the uterus on the diaphragm.
Sleep Position – Sleeping on one's back can cause the tongue to fall back, creating an obstruction in the airway that causes snoring. Also an overly large pillow can cause a person's neck to flex forward, resulting in the narrowing of the airway.
Anatomical Conditions –
Enlarged tonsils, enlarged uvula (the little thing that hangs down in the back of your throat), a large tongue or blocked sinuses can lead to a physical blockage that results in snoring.