The Importance of Understanding Why You Snore

When your snoring is loud enough to affect your partner or others in your household, you need to learn what causes your snoring. Why? Because it’s a sure sign of obstructive sleep apnea, which can have a serious impact on your health and well-being.

At the very least, loud snoring shows you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, and that has its own health consequences.

At ApneCare Sleep Lab, we specialize in one thing: evaluating what happens while you sleep that causes snoring. With our advanced equipment, we can determine the severity of your snoring and measure vital markers in your body like oxygen level, heart rate, and brain waves, providing the information your doctor needs to accurately diagnose the problem and provide effective treatment.

Why you snore

Snoring occurs in your upper airway, where air flow from your nose and mouth meet at the back of your throat. This small area is surrounded by soft tissues such as your tongue, soft palate, and uvula (the small piece that hangs down from the soft palate).

The soft palate forms the top of your mouth, which curves down toward the tongue. Your tongue also curves downward at the back of your throat, mimicking the shape of the soft palate. The space between the soft palate and tongue forms the junction where air flow from your nose and mouth meet on their way down to your lungs.

When you sleep, the muscles in these soft tissues relax, letting them fall toward the back of your throat and partially cover the airway. As you breathe in air and it has to get past these tissues, the air makes them vibrate, creating the sound of snoring.

The extent to which the airway is covered determines how loudly you snore. The more the airway is covered, the harder your body works to pull air through the blocked opening. This increases the vibration, and your snoring becomes louder.

Physical features influence snoring

Have you ever wondered why some people snore and others don’t? Snoring is affected by variables such as:

Anatomy of your upper airway

Some people naturally have an airway opening that’s smaller than average, making it easier for the airway to become blocked. Other physical variables that increase the chance you’ll snore include:

Upper respiratory congestion

The common cold, year-round allergies, pharyngitis, swollen tonsils, or a problem inside your nose like polyps can all restrict your airflow. When that happens, your body puts more effort into breathing, creating pressure in the back of your throat that makes soft tissues collapse while you sleep and block the airway.

Being overweight

When you’re overweight, fat also builds up in the walls of your throat, which narrows the airway. Carrying extra weight can also decrease your lung volume. When you sleep, the change in lung volume creates pressure that makes soft tissues cover the airways.

Snoring is a red flag

All snoring is a sign that you don’t breathe well while you sleep. Loud and persistent snoring is a red flag signaling the presence of obstructive sleep apnea, and that’s a condition that should be treated as soon as possible due to its health risks.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your airway is completely blocked. During that blockage, your body doesn’t take in oxygen, so your brain wakes you up just enough for you to take a breath.

When you have obstructive sleep apnea, your breathing stops frequently while you sleep, anywhere from once every 12 minutes to one or two times a minute. The cumulative loss of oxygen increases your risk of developing serious health problems such as:

Obstructive sleep apnea significantly disturbs your sleep cycle, which makes you so fatigued during the day that you’re at risk of falling asleep at work or worse, while driving.

Even if you don’t have obstructive sleep apnea, snoring can indicate another underlying sleep disorder or health problem such as hypothyroidism, structural abnormalities, or nasal congestion.

Additionally, severe snoring due to upper airway resistance interrupts your sleep whether or not it’s associated with obstructive sleep apnea. This lack of restorative sleep leads to daytime fatigue, weight gain, and problems with memory, cognition, and mood.

Importance of understanding why you snore

It’s essential to determine which one of the many variables is responsible for your snoring because that’s the only way to diagnose the problem and get the treatment needed to restore normal breathing while you sleep.

Although a physician can examine your nose and throat, and a dentist can evaluate whether dental structures contribute to your snoring, a sleep study is the only way to determine what happens when you sleep, the severity of your snoring, and whether you have obstructive sleep apnea. To learn more about sleep studies, call ApneCare Sleep Lab or schedule a consultation online.

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