Snoring is a loud, hoarse, or harsh breathing sound that occurs during sleep.
Snoring is common in adults. It does not necessarily mean that you have a health problem.
A doctor (or sleep specialist) can tell if you have sleep apnea by doing a sleep study either at home or in a hospital.
Snoring is an important social problem. People who share a bed with someone who snores can develop sleep difficulties.
In most people, the reason for snoring is not known. Some possible causes include:
Changes in the mouth and throat, such as:
Sometimes snoring can be a sign of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. This means you have periods in which you completely or partly stop breathing for more than 10 seconds while you sleep.
The episode is followed by a sudden snort or gasp when you start breathing again. Then you start to snore again. If you have sleep apnea, this cycle usually happens many times a night. Sleep apnea is not as common as snoring.
The following tips may help reduce snoring:
If your doctor has given you a breathing device, use it on a regular basis. Follow your health care provider's advice for treating allergy symptoms.
Talk to your health care provider if you have:
Children with chronic snoring should also be tested for apnea. Sleep apnea in children has been linked to growth problems, ADHD, poor school performance, learning difficulties, bedwetting, and high blood pressure. Most children who snore do NOT have apnea, but a sleep study is the only way to tell for sure.
Your health care provider will ask questions to evaluate your snoring. You will also have a physical exam that focuses on your throat, mouth, and neck.
Questions may include the following (some of which your partner might have to answer):
You may need to be referred to a sleep specialist for sleep studies.
Treatment options include:
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Friedman M, Schalch P. Surgery of the palate and oropharynx. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2007 Aug;40(4):829-43.
Patil SP, Schneider H, Schwartz AR, Smith PL. Adult obstructive sleep apnea: pathophysiology and diagnosis. Chest. 2007 Jul;132(1):325-37.
Basner RC. Continuous positive airway pressure for obstructive sleep apnea. N Engl J Med. 2007 Apr 26;356(17):1751-8.
Updated by: Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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