What causes snoring?

Steven C. Smart, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Habitual snoring, which is usually caused by a narrowing of the airways and relaxation of the muscles in the back of the throat, affects 10% to 15% of the general population, and closer to 50% of patients with cardiac issues. Severe snoring can become a real problem as it may lead to under-breathing or even cessation of breathing.
Craig L. Schwimmer, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Snoring is sound, and sound is caused by vibration. When we go to sleep, the muscles in the throat relax, allowing the tissue lining the throat to vibrate as we breathe. The soft palate (roof of mouth) is the single biggest contributor, but the tonsils, nose, and tongue can also play a role, so a thorough evaluation is recommended to determine the best course of treatment.
Snoring is a very common low-frequency noise that occurs during sleep. It is the direct result of airflow limitation and the associated vibration of the soft tissues in the back of the throat. It can also be a symptom of a very serious medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which involves severe narrowing or occlusion of the airway with a pause in breathing.
Unofficial Guide to Impotence

More About this Book

Unofficial Guide to Impotence

The Unofficial Guide to Conquering Impotence delivers the inside scoop on impotence: the truth about Viagra, what treatments really work, and how lifestyle changes can aid in conquering...
Snoring is a turbulence problem. Air rushes down a tube that causes a vibration in the tissue, which causes a cadence and then a snore. This can cause frequent disruptions in a person’s sleep (not to mention the other person trying to sleep in the same bed). Snorers generally don’t wake up feeling as refreshed as they should.
It is estimated that more than 80 million people in North America snore while sleeping. During sleep, the muscles in soft tissues in the snorer’s throat and mouth relax, making the breathing airway smaller. This decrease in the airway space increases the speed of the air flow. As the speed increases, the soft tissues surrounding the space vibrate, creating noisy breathing or snoring. Snoring also increases with excess body weight, alcohol consumption, and sedatives.

 

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Sleep apnea is the most rapidly increasing airway problem. If you sleep-or try to sleep, shall we say-next to a snorer, you might compare the sound to a garbage disposal. Or perhaps a jet engine. The amplifiers from your teenager's band, maybe?

Without question, snoring is second only to karaoke as the most annoying thing that can come out of your mouth, and most of us know the roar all too well. Almost 50 percent of adults snore occasionally, while 25 percent snore regularly.

Anatomically speaking, snoring occurs when there's obstruction of the free flow of air through the passages in the back of your mouth. That obstruction forces air through a tinier hole and out your mouth; the air rubbing against the lining of your throat is what makes that sound.

If the jackhammer-like vibrations firing from your partner's face aren't enough to scare the sheets off you, this fact will: Snoring can reach up to 85 decibels-the sound level of a New York City subway (that's actually enough to cause hearing damage over time).
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

More About this Book

YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...