Snoring is common in adults and is not necessarily a sign of an underlying disorder.
Sometimes, however, snoring can be a sign of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. This means you have periods when 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 breathing resumes. Then, snoring starts all over again. If you have sleep apnea, this cycle generally happens multiple times a night. Sleep apnea is not as common as snoring.
A doctor (or a sleep specialist) can tell if you have sleep apnea by doing a sleep study either at home or in a hospital setting.
Snoring is an important social problem. Persons who share a bed with a someone who snores can develop sleep difficulties.
In most people, the reason for snoring is not known. Some potential causes (other than sleep apnea) include:
See obstructive sleep apnea for more causes.
The following tips can help reduce snoring:
Talk to your doctor if you have:
Children with chronic snoring should also be evaluated 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 reliable way to tell for sure.
Your doctor will ask questions to evaluate your snoring and perform a physical exam, paying careful attention to your throat, mouth, and neck.
Questions may include the following (some of which your partner might have to answer):
Referral to a sleep specialist for sleep studies may be needed.
Treatment options include:
Franklin KA, Anttila H, Axelsson S, Gislason T, Maasilta P, Myhre KI, et al. Effects and side-effects of surgery for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea--a systematic review. Sleep. 2009;32:27-36.
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.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885