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What is snoring?

Snoring is the sound that occurs during sleep when flow of air is obstructed in the area where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring noises occur when these structures vibrate against each other during breathing.

Causes

Snoring may be caused by many factors, including:

  • Poor muscle tone
  • Excessively bulky throat tissue
  • Long soft palate
  • Long uvula
  • Stuffed or blocked nasal passages
  • Deformities of the nose
  • Deformities of the nasal septum

Snoring may also be a symptom of other medical conditions. Snoring is more common in males and people who are overweight, and it worsens with age.

How common is it?

It is estimated that 45 percent of all adults snore occasionally, and 25 percent habitually snore.

Treatment

Treatment may include a nasal mask that provides continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), or surgery. Mild or occasional snoring may also be helped by:

  • A healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and proper diet
  • Losing weight
  • Avoiding tranquilizers, sleeping pills and antihistamines before bedtime
  • Avoiding alcohol at least four hours before bedtime
  • Avoiding heavy meals at least three hours before bedtime
  • Establishing regular sleeping patterns
  • Sleeping on your side
  • Tilting the head of the bed up about 4 inches

Heavy or chronic snoring may require medical care.

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