Why snoring?

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Why snoring?

Snoring occurs when a person makes a snorting or rattling noise when they breathe during sleep. The noise comes from vibration of the soft palate and tissue in the mouth, nose or throat.
Some people snore infrequently and the sound they make is not particularly loud, while others may snore every night, loud enough to be heard in the next room. Healthcare professionals use grading systems to assess a person’s snoring. The higher the grade, the more severe the snoring is.

Snoring is caused by the vibration of the soft tissue in your head and neck as you breathe in.

Tissue that can be affected includes:
- nasal passages
- soft palate
- base of your tongue
- tonsils
- uvula

While you are asleep, the airways in your neck and head relax and narrow. It is thought the narrowing of the airways increases the speed at which you are breathing out and changes air pressure in your airways. This causes the soft tissue to vibrate by sucking the sides of the airways in.

The same effect can also be the result of partially blocked airways, which may be caused by conditions such as enlarged tonsils and colds.
Evidence suggests snoring will get worse over time if left untreated. Vibrations that occur during snoring appear to damage blood vessels that supply muscles in the head and neck. This may, over many years, cause the muscles to weaken.

If the muscles in your head and neck become weakened, their ability to keep your airways open will be affected, making you more likely to snore frequently and loudly.

 

Increased risk

Some things that can increase your risk of habitual snoring include:
> obesity – particularly if you have a large amount of fat around your neck, people with a neck circumference of more than 43cm (17 inches) usually snore a lot
> drinking alcohol – alcohol relaxes your muscles when you sleep, which increases the narrowing of your airways
> sedatives and some types of antidepressants – in some people, these medications can have a similar effect to alcohol on the muscles
>smoking – tobacco smoke can cause your airways to become inflamed, which increases the narrowing of the airways
> allergic rhinitis – a condition where the inside of your nose becomes swollen and inflamed due to an allergic reaction to substances such as dust or pollen

People with severe snoring may have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a condition where the airways become temporarily blocked during sleep.

 

How is snoring treated?

Treatment can improve snoring in some cases, but a complete cure is not always possible.

Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, are usually recommended first. There are also anti-snoring devices, such as aveoTSD that may help prevent snoring.

If anti-snoring devices don't help, then surgery may be an option. This often involves removing soft tissue that causes the snoring, or preventing the tissue from vibrating by causing it to tighten.

However, surgery for snoring is usually regarded as a last resort. It is important to be aware that surgery can often have a limited effect that doesn't last longer than one or two years and can cause unpleasant side effects or complications.

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