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The cause of snoring is a narrowing of the airway that occurs during sleep. Because of this narrowing, the snorer produces a vibrating noise that those in the surroundings consider annoying. It’s also nearly always those in the vicinity who have trouble with the snoring, not the snorer himself! Snoring is usually a relatively benign complaint.

How does snoring occur?

Snoring usually occurs because of a narrowing behind the uvula or in the throat cavity immediately behind the tongue. Sometimes, the nasal cavity is also too narrow. This way, during breathing, a lot of air flows in through too narrow a passageway. This narrow portion starts vibrating and causes the annoying noise. A constriction of the airways can be congenital, but other circumstances may also cause snoring. Obesity, certain medicines, alcohol, smoking and frequent heartburn all promote the narrowing. There are also other medical causes such as polyps, allergies, a cold or sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea, or obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS), is a very serious affliction that can occur among snorers. In this, the throat cavity is so narrow that a complete blockage of the airways occurs. A respiratory stoppage occurs that can even last longer than 30 seconds. However, the person cannot suffocate. The brain sends out an emergency signal such that the snorer either sleeps more lightly or awakens.

If this occurs more than 5 times per hour each night and if the person is quite fatigued during the day without a demonstrable reason, then this is considered an apnoea. The quality of sleep is poor. This can cause problems during the day because the person is extremely tired during the day and can even fall asleep unintentionally at random moments. Because the brain issues emergency signals, a change in blood pressure takes place. This can lead to high blood pressure. People with sleep apnoea may also have trouble recovering energy at night. For this reason, the life expectancy of a person with sleep apnoea is shorter. Is there a suspicion of sleep apnoea? Consult  a physician.