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What Causes Snoring?

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 correct cause of 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 Snoring Causes

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 Snoring Causes

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 serious medical issue which should be diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor. There are two types of sleep apnea:

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.