Snoring may be an early warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring is caused by the vibration of the soft parts of the throat while inspiring air during sleep, and this noise may be continuous with almost every breath or intermittent with breath holding spells. These periods of suspension of breathing are called apneas, which are due to obstruction of the upper airway at the level of the uvula or base of the tongue. Apneas may be interrupted by a brief arousal that can be recorded from brain waves in a sleep disorder’s laboratory.
In adults, 10 to 50 percent of those who snore have sleep apnea.