Why Do People Snore and How Serious is it?

Some snoring causes and their effects are relatively harmless and can easily be treated by simple things such as changing your sleeping posture or moderating your alcohol consumption. However, snoring can also be the cause of a more serious health issue, that left untreated, could become fatal. One such example is obstructive sleep apnea.

Snoring Causes

Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is obstructed. Air flow can be obstructed in numerous ways, including:

Obstructed nasal airways. Seasonal allergies and sinus infections can cause swelling of the nasal passages and make breathing difficult and snoring likely. A deviated septum and nasal polyps can also cause snoring due to the imbalance in the sizes of breathing passages. A severe deviated septum can lead to sleep apnea.
Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue. Weak throat and tongue muscles allow them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can result from deep sleep, alcohol consumption and the use of some sleeping pills. Normal aging also causes further relaxation of the muscles.
Bulky throat tissue. If you are overweight you are more likely to have an excess of built-up fatty tissues in your throat as well as poor muscle tone, which restricts the throat muscles and causes inflammation of these areas and further restriction of airflow. Children with large tonsils and adenoids also snore.
Long soft palate or uvula. A long soft palate or long uvula can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When the structures vibrate and bump against one another the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.
Alcohol consumption, smoking and medication. Alcohol, smoking and some medications increase muscle relaxation. This allows the flesh of the throat to relax and disrupt airflow. Smoking also irritates the nasal passage and throat muscles causing inflammation of these areas and further restricting airflow.
Sleep posture. Of the snoring causes, sleeping on your back is one of the biggest factors in your risk of snoring. The tissues at the back of the throat can more readily fall back and cause partial or complete blockage of the airways leading to snoring. To avoid this, try changing your sleeping posture by sleeping on your side.

What are the Risks and Complications?

In some cases, if snoring is left untreated, individuals risk health complications such as:

Strain on Heart. Untreated obstructed sleep apnea often results in high blood pressure. This can lead to an increase in heart size leading to a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Arrhythmias. People with sleep apnea also run the risk of a higher chance of having cardiac arrhythmias, most commonly atrial fibrillation. These fluctuations affect the heart’s natural rhythm, in which the heart may beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. While arrhythmias are common and benign, when they are coupled with sleep apnea they can be a cause for serious cardiac concern.
Low oxygen levels in the blood. If you’re not breathing regularly your body isn’t pumping and receiving the levels of oxygen in the blood stream that it needs. This can cause your constricted blood vessels in the lungs.
Long interruption of breathing. One of the most common effects of obstructive sleep apnea is frequent interruptions of breathing. If an interruption in breathing lasts more than 10 seconds and is frequent throughout the night, this can lead to frequent waiting from sleep reducing sleep quality.

Schedule a Consultation

If you or your partner is snoring through the night, it may be time to discuss a prevention and treatment plan with your doctor. The form of treatment will depend on the cause of your condition.

Remember that it isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, but if you believe snoring is affecting your child’s sleep, consult your physician to rule out any underlying conditions that may be affecting your sleep quality.

Join our many satisfied patients, and schedule an appointment with Sleep MD NYC today, for treatment options.

Sleep test now avaialble-click viewx