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When a person's airway becomes partially blocked, the restriction prevents some of the air that was inhaled from getting into the lungs. The "extra" air gets redirected into the mouth, creating a negative pressure which vibrates the soft tissue of the palate and creates snoring.
Snoring indicates that there is some resistance to the normal path of air from the outside to the lungs, and snoring is associated with disrupted sleep, daytime fatigue and sleepiness, and decreases in oxygen levels in the body. Snoring can also be extremely disruptive to the sleep of the bedpartner and can stress interpersonal relationships of couples.
In addition to disturbed sleep patterns and sleep deprivation, other serious health problems may result. Snoring may also be a symptom of other medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Not everybody who snores has OSA, and not everybody who has OSA has snoring.
It is estimated that 45 percent of all adults snore occasionally, and 25 percent habitually snore. Snoring is more common in males and people who are overweight.
What causes snoring?
Snoring may be caused by many factors, including:
Poor muscle tone
Excessively bulky throat tissue
Long soft palate
Stuffed or blocked nasal passages
Deformities of the nose
Deformities of the nasal septum
Can snoring be prevented?
Mild or occasional snoring may be helped by:
A healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and proper diet
Avoiding tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime
Avoiding alcohol at least four hours before bedtime
Avoiding heavy meals at least three hours before bedtime
Establishing regular sleeping patterns
Sleeping on your side
Tilting the head of the bed up about 4 inches
Heavy or chronic snoring may require medical care.