Sleep Apnea and Snoring 

Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Snoring is a hoarse or raspy sound that occurs when air flows past the lax tissues of your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe. Almost everyone snores from time to time, but it can be a chronic problem for some people. Sometimes, it can also indicate a serious medical condition. Moreover, snoring can be annoying to your partner.

Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcoholic beverages before bedtime or sleeping on one side, can help stop snoring.

Moreover, medical and surgical devices are available to reduce annoying snoring. However, they are not suitable or required for all people who snore.


Sometimes snoring is associated with a sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Not everyone who snores has obstructive sleep Apnea, but if your snoring is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it may indicate that you should see a doctor for further evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Pausing breathing during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • morning headache

Sore throat when waking up

Uncomfortable sleep

  • Shortness of breath or croup at night
  • Hypertension
  • Feeling chest pain at night
  • Your snoring is so loud it disturbs your sleeping partner
  • In children, poor attention span, behavioural problems, or poor academic performance


Sometimes obstructive sleep Apnea is characterized by loud snoring, which is followed by periods of calm when breathing has stopped or almost stopped. Finally, the lack of or pauses in breathing may wake you up, and you may wake up with a loud snoring or choking sound.

Perhaps you are sleeping lightly due to interrupted sleep. This pattern of pauses in breathing may repeat several times at night.

People with obstructive sleep Apnea usually experience periods of slowed or stopped breathing of at least five minutes during each hour of sleep.


When do you see a doctor?

See a doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed. These may indicate that your snoring is related to obstructive sleep pane (OSA).


If your child snores, ask your doctor. Children also develop obstructive sleep Apnea. Nose and throat problems — such as enlarged tonsils — and obesity can narrow a child’s airways. This could lead to obstructive sleep Apnea.

Snoring can be caused by many factors, such as the anatomy of your mouth and sinuses, alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, and your weight.

When you fall asleep and go from light sleep to deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough to block the airway and vibrate.

The narrower your airway becomes, the more forceful the airflow will be. This increases tissue vibration, causing your snoring to become louder.


The following conditions can affect the airway and cause snoring:

Oral anatomy. Having a low, thick soft palate can narrow the airway. Overweight people may have extra tissue in the back of their throat which can cause the airways to narrow. Likewise, if the triangular-shaped piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula) is stretched, airflow can be obstructed and vibration increased.

  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages. Snoring can also be caused by consuming too many alcoholic beverages before bedtime. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in your throat and reduces your natural deafness against airway obstruction.

Nasal problems. Chronic nasal congestion or a twisted part between the nostrils (deviated nasal septum) may contribute to snoring.

  • Sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep can lead to further sagging of the throat.

Sleeping position. Snoring is usually more frequent and louder when sleeping on the back as gravity acts on the throat and narrows the airway.

risk factors

Risk factors that may contribute to snoring include:


to be a man. Men are more likely to snore or have sleep Apnea than women.

You are overweight. Individuals who are overweight or obese are more likely to have snoring or obstructive sleep Apnea.

A narrowing of the airways. Some people may have long navels, large tonsils, or adenoids that can narrow the airway and cause snoring.

drink alcohol. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat, which increases the risk of snoring.

Nasal problems. If you have a structural defect in the airway, such as a deviated nasal septum or chronic nasal congestion, your risk of snoring may be increased.

You have a family history of snoring or obstructive sleep Apnea. Genetics is a possible risk factor for obstructive sleep Apnea (OSA).




Habitual snoring may be more than just an annoyance. Aside from disturbing your partner’s sleep, if snoring is associated with obstructive sleep Apnea, there may be a risk of other complications, including:

  • Sleep during the day
  • Frequent frustration or anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • High risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
  • An increased risk of behavioural problems, such as aggression or learning problems, in children with obstructive sleep Apnea
  • Increased risk of car accidents due to lack of sleep


To diagnose your condition, your doctor will review your symptoms, signs, and medical history. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam.

Your doctor may ask your partner questions about when and how you snore to help assess the severity of the problem. If your child snores, you will be asked how severe the snoring is.



Your doctor may order an imaging test, such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan. These tests check the structure of the airway to look for problems, such as a deviated septum.


Sleep study

Your doctor may want to perform a sleep study, depending on the severity of your snoring and other symptoms. Sometimes sleep studies may be done at home.

However, depending on other medical issues and other sleep symptoms you have, you may need to stay overnight at a sleep Center to undergo in-depth analysis of your breathing during sleep through a study called a polysomnography.

During a sleep test, your body is connected to several sensors and observed throughout the night.


During a polysomnography, the following information is recorded:

brain waves

blood oxygen level

heart rate

breathing rate

stages of sleep

Movement of the eyes and legs

Your doctor may initially suggest lifestyle changes to treat snoring, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime
  • Treat nasal congestion
  • Avoid sleep deprivation
  • Avoid sleeping on the back



To treat snoring associated with obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest:

Oral appliances. Oral appliances are form-fitting mouthpieces that help position the jaw, tongue and soft palate to keep the airway open.

If you choose to use an oral appliance, you’ll work with your dental professional to improve the fit and position of the appliance. You will also work with a sleep specialist to ensure that the oral appliance is working as intended. Dental visits may be necessary at least once every six months for the first year, and thereafter at least annually to ensure device suitability and to assess oral health.

Increased salivation, dry mouth, pain in the jaw, and facial discomfort may be possible side effects from wearing these devices.

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This method involves wearing a mask over the nose or mouth while sleeping. The mask directs compressed air from a small pump at the side of the bed into the airway to keep it open while you sleep.

A continuous positive airway pressure (SEE-pap) mask eliminates snoring and is often used to treat snoring when it is associated with obstructive sleep apnea.

Although continuous positive airway pressure is the most reliable and effective way to treat obstructive sleep apnea, some people find it uncomfortable or have trouble adjusting to the noise or feel of the device.

Upper airway surgery. There are several procedures aimed at opening the upper airway and preventing significant stenosis during sleep through a variety of approaches.