Why do people snore?
Snoring is the name given to the sound made when the soft palate and other tissues in the upper airway vibrate.
In most cases, snoring is caused by relaxed muscle tension in the upper airway. This causes the airway to narrow, leading to increased air turbulence, the vibration of soft tissue, and the sound of snoring.
As people get older, a general loss of muscle tone makes snoring more likely. However, many other things can increase the risk of snoring such as:
- Drinking alcohol
- Certain prescription medicines (eg. sedatives)
Colds, allergies, and a blocked nose.
Snoring is not something that can be ‘cured’, however, there are things that can be done to alleviate the symptoms and provide relief. To find out more about snoring and what can be done to help the problem, visit our Relationship Between Snoring and Sleep page.
When is snoring a sign of something more serious?
A long-term problem with heavy snoring can be a sign of sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is a serious medical condition that can affect both quality of sleep and overall health.
People suffering with sleep apnoea find that their airway temporarily closes, preventing normal breathing during sleep. This is caused by a reduction of muscle tone in the upper airway during sleep, which causes the airway to collapse, preventing the air from flowing freely into the lungs.
Sleep apnoea can affect both males and females of any age, however there is a slight increase in risk for males aged over 65. Two factors which can increase the risk of developing sleep apnoea are smoking and being overweight. Sleep apnoea can be complicated to diagnose because one of the main symptoms is excessive and/or loud snoring, but people can snore loudly without having the condition.
View our How to Diagnose Sleep Apnoea page, to find out more about how to diagnose and treat the condition.