Snoring is the production of unpleasant and annoying sound during sleep that affects the quality of sleep of both the snorer and his/her bed partner or roommate. The irritating sound is caused by the vibrations of tissues in the nose, mouth, and throat due to the turbulence of passing air particles. Just like the vocal cords that vibrate to produce sound during speech, airway tissues could also vibrate to create sound during snoring. Vibration of airway tissues happens when there is a blockage or narrowing in the nose, mouth, or throat.
Besides from being a nuisance to bed partner or roommate during sleep, snoring can indicate underlying health problems that need appropriate medical attention. Snoring is the major symptom of sleep apnea, or periodic cessation of breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea is an important sleep disorder associated to heart diseases and other cardiovascular diseases.
Prevalence of Snoring
As a common sleep disorder, snoring can affect all people at any age but it occurs more frequently in men and overweight people. Studies show that approximately 45% of men and 30% of women snore regularly. There are also people who do not regularly snore but report snoring after drinking liquor, viral infections, nasal congestion, or when taking some medications.
Most of us have the notion that snorers are large men with thick necks. This is not true because even thin women with small necks can snore as loud and as frequent with large men. Generally, as people get older and gain weight, snoring will worsen.
Causes of Snoring
When we breathe, air flows in and out from our nose or mouth to our lungs. When we are sitting and breathing quietly, the turbulence of air particles is small so few sounds are produced and usually negligible. But when we exercise, the air moves faster and produces some sounds as we breathe. When air is moving in and out of the mouth and nose fast, it creates turbulence to the airflow causing the airway tissues to vibrate. This mechanism of sound production during exercise is similar to the production of snoring sound during sleep. How?
Sometimes the airway narrows when we are asleep. This narrowing gives little space for air flow which will create turbulence to the passing air which causes the airway tissues to vibrate and produce the characteristic sound of snoring. People who snore have different reasons for the narrowing. The narrowing can occur at the nose, mouth, or throat.
Is snoring a problem?
Snoring can be a sign of more serious medical problems. Therefore, a person who snore should be examined by a doctor for sleep apnea (brief pause in breathing), other sleeping problems, and sleep related problems. Sleeping problems can be associated with various cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and hypertension.
Even if snoring is not associated to any kind of disease, it can potentially be a family problem when the snorer sleeps with a partner or family a member. If only the sound of snoring is as beautiful as an instrumental song, there would be no problem. However, snoring sound is irritating and annoying especially if it is as loud as the sound of a running truck. Many times, the snorer’s partner leaves the room if he/she could not withstand anymore the terrible sound, or the snorer is asked to leave the room. A person, who couldn’t have a good night sleep because his /her partner or roommate is snoring, can experience sleepiness during the day. If that person is working, he/she may not properly concentrate with his/her job during the day and his/her chances of committing mistakes is high.[ad#afterpost]