What Causes Snoring?

Snoring can seem quirky and charming, with people sometimes having fun recording others’ snores.

People brush it off as an annoying habit, but it is, in reality, a health concern .

The Causes of Snoring

Snoring results from airway obstruction. It is also symptomatic of apnea, or breathing difficulties. It has several causes, some easier to deal with than others.

1. Mouth Anatomy

The structure of the mouth can cause airway blockage. A lower, soft and thick palate can constrict your airway. Having an elongated uvula, or the triangular tissue dangling from the soft palate, can also block airflow. Having more tissue at the back of the throat also leads to snoring.

2. Nasal Anatomy

Improper nasal structure blocks the airway as well. Having a deflected or crooked septum (the bone that parts the nostrils) causes snoring. This bent bone may partly block the airway and cause difficulty breathing during sleep.

3. Destruction of upper airway muscles

Snoring causes heavy vibrations in the mouth and nose. This may damage the pharyngeal and laryngeal muscles in the upper airway. It may destroy the nerves and disrupt blood flow. In time, the muscles collapse.

4. Tongue-based snoring

Tongue-based snoring happens because the base of the tongue blocks the airway. Air tries vainly to get to the lungs via the airway and in doing so, moves the tongue’s tissues. This causes snoring and poor breathing.

5. Alcohol consumption and smoking

Having too much alcohol, especially before sleeping, leads to snoring. Alcohol softens mouth, nose and throat muscles. These relaxed muscles then fall back and block the airway, making it harder to breathe during sleep.

6. Poor sleeping position

Sleeping on your back also relaxes muscles and blocks the airway. Lax muscles fall back and compress it.

7. Allergies

Experts link allergic reactions with snoring. A study found that allergic rhinitis, which a patient gets when he inhales allergens in the air, affects sleep. Allergic rhinitis causes obstructive sleep apnea, which happens when throat muscles relax and cannot hold the airway open during sleep, Breathing difficulties cause snoring.

8. Obesity

Obesity is a health condition linked with snoring. Those with high levels of obesity tend to have more tissue at the backs of their throats, which block their airways and cause snoring.

9. Pregnancy

Pregnant women experience an increase in weight. Fat develops in the soft tissues of the neck, narrowing the airway. This causes apnea and snoring.

10. Medications

Medications cause the muscles of the upper airway to relax during sleep. As the pharyngeal and laryngeal muscles relax, the airway collapses. This leads to tissue vibration and snoring.

Symptoms of Snoring

If there is no one else in the room while you sleep, you may not know whether you snore. Here are some signs that you do.

1. Extreme daytime sleepiness

If you feel extremely sleepy during the day, chances are that you snore. Breathing difficulties may interrupt your sleep, leading to listlessness during the day.

2. Choking during sleep

Choking during sleep results from a blocked airway. The likelihood of snoring is extremely high.

3. Breathing pauses

If your breathing is not constant, your airway is probably blocked. You would probably snore at night too.

4. Headaches

Headaches are a precursor of snoring. In a study conducted by the National Institute of Ageing, researchers found that those with headaches were likely to snore. They compared those who reported daily headaches with those who had occasional headaches and found that the former were three times as likely to snore.

5. Difficulty concentrating/moodiness

Snoring disrupts sleep and naturally makes it difficult to concentrate. It also makes one more temperamental and irritable.

6. Urinating often

A study that compared people with urological problems with those who have sleep apnea found that apnea is as likely to cause excessive urinating during the night.

Apnea produces more urine. Changes in blood flow to the heart because of airway blockage increases atrial natriuretic peptide, which in turn increases urine production. Night time urination, or nocturia, is a sign of snoring.

Knowing the causes and symptoms of snoring makes it easier to treat it.