Snoring: Is It Serious Or Just A Nuisance?

Written by Manny Erlich on August 2, 2012. Posted in Snoring 101, Why Do We Snore?

To be sure, loud snoring is a nuisance to the ones who have to sleep through it.  Snoring is so irritating that, according to the Department of Health, it is a source of tension among couples and sometimes even a relationship breaker.

Often though, loud snoring can be more than just a nuisance, it can be a sign of a serious health problem.  And given that 45 percent of adults snore and more than 25 percent of adults are habitual snorers, snoring is more than a mere nuisance.

What Is Snoring? Why do people snore? What are some snoring causes?

Snoring, according to the American Academy of Head and Neck Surgery, is that awful, rumbling sound a person makes while gasping for air during sleep.  Snoring occurs as the result of a blockage that stops the flow of air through the mouth or nose during sleep.  This blockage causes the tissue of the airway to vibrate and flap making the irritating, noisy snoring sound.

So why do people snore? They snore because of one or several conditions, such as:

  • Low, thick, soft palate
  • Enlarged tonsils and /or adenoids
  • Overweight
  • Nasal congestion
  • The shape of the nose or mouth
  • Drinking alcohol before bedtime
  • Taking sleeping medicine or painkillers before bedtime

Should I See A Doctor?

If you are a heavy or loud snorer or someone who snores persistently in any position, The American Academy of Head and Neck Surgery recommends that you see your doctor.

If you experience snoring symptoms the next day, such as excessive sleepiness or morning headaches, you should see your doctor.  This is because studies show that people who snore loudly are at twice the risk as non-snorers for heart attacks, strokes or diabetes.

Heavy or loud snoring may be a symptom of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder with potentially severe health risks.  The American Academy of Head and Neck Surgery suggests that sleep apnea is so prevalent, that doctors regularly ask their patients about it as part of their physical examination.

The Mayo Clinic urges parents of children who snore to take them to the doctor, as loud snoring can be a sign of nose or throat problems, as well as sleep apnea.

What Should I do if I am a snorer? What snoring remedies are avaiable to me?

The American Sleep Apnea Association recommends several treatments – many of them surgical procedures — aimed at reducing airflow obstructions during sleep.

The National Heart and Lung Institute suggests that some snorers may benefit from prescription mouthpieces that pull the jaw forward during sleep or breathing masks called CPAP’s.  While prescription mouthpieces may cost up to $3,000, they can be effective in treating mild sleep apnea.  In contrast, over-the-counter appliances cost $40 or less, but are unproven.  The key is to speak with your dentist or doctor about which treatment is right for you.

For the mild habitual snorer, your dentist or doctor might recommend some lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime and a change in sleeping position from your back to your side.  If these work, great!  If not, your dentist or doctor might any of the treatments mentioned before, such as oral appliances, pressurized masks or surgery.

And what about your sleeping partner, you might ask?  The Mayo Clinic recommends that he or she use earplugs or earphones, or stagger his or her bedtime.

The bottom line is this:  Even if you don’t suffer from a serious snoring-related condition such as sleep apnea, loud snoring keeps you and your partner from having a good night’s sleep, which adversely affects both of you.  According to a new CDC study of some 75,000 subjects, 35 percent said they get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night because of snoring and on average lose one hour of sleep per night, which affected their ability to concentrate and remember things, as well as their ability to handle their daily duties.

You can read more articles on living with snoring or how to stop snoring by exloring our Snoring 101 section or exploring our most recent and most popular articles below. 


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Manny Erlich

International Foundation of Employee Benefits - Certified Employee Benefits Specialist