Understanding Snoring - The common causes
Understanding Snoring
Why do we snore?

While breathing, air flows in and out through the nasal cavity in a steady stream. There is hardly any sound of breathing when we are sitting quietly and breathing naturally. During exercise, the air moves much faster and produces some sounds. This happens because quick air movement has more turbulence to airflow causing some vibration in tissues inside nose and mouth.

But we snore during sleep only. This is because of obstruction in airflow during breathing at the back of the throat. The same amount of air is now passing through the smaller opening much faster that is causing the surrounding tissues to vibrate, which in turn causes the snoring (sound).

Different people snore because of different reasons for the narrowing of their throat, nose or mouth. Typically, people who do not regularly snore are reported to be snoring after a viral illness, drinking alcohol or when on some medications. Some of the most common causes of snoring are elaborated below:

Mouth anatomy - Having a low, thick soft palate can narrow the airway. This is common in people who are overweight. They may have fatty tissues in the back of their throats that may narrow their airways and cause snoring. Similarly, if someone has tissues hanging from uvula the airflow can be obstructed and cause snoring.

Alcohol consumption - Alcohol relaxes all our body muscles including the ones at the back of our throat. This again causes the airway to be narrowed and cause snoring.

Nasal problems - Chronic nasal congestion or a crooked partition between the nostrils may also cause snoring problem.

Sleeping position - Snoring is typically more common and loud when sleeping on the back. This is because the jaw or tongue muscles can fall backwards due to gravity and narrows the airway.

Obstructive sleep apnea - Snoring can also be an indication of underlying sleep disorder - obstructive sleep apnea. In this situation, the throat tissues partially/completely block the airway causing snoring.

Is snoring a problem?

Sometimes snoring can be the sign of an underlying serious health problem. Or in other way it can be said that, snoring can cause bigger health problems. People who snore should be diagnosed for illness like sleep apnea, high blood pressure, low oxygen level in blood and other sleep related breathing problems. It is important to find out if snoring is related to an underlying health problem or is an primary problem that is not associated with any other disease.

There are evidence of a relationship between snoring and other major health problems. However, the exact cause of this relationship remains unclear. Primary snoring, to be specific is not associated with obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia or any other sleep disorders. But it is critical to determine if snoring is indicating an underlying illness or is primary snoring.