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Massachusetts Eye and Ear
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Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery

Snoring

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Overall, snoring is pretty common—affecting up to 40 percent of men and 24 percent of women. It occurs when airflow passes relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to flutter as you breathe and produce sound. At its best, it's a nuisance—especially for your sleep partner—but at it's worst, it could be a sign of an underlying, more serious problem such as sleep apnea.

Overview

When you lie down to sleep, your body position changes and your muscles relax. As a result, the tissues of your upper airways narrow and, if the airway narrows sufficiently, the tissues will flutter as air passes through them. The ensuing noise we hear is snoring.

Snoring is commonly associated with weight, sleeping on one's back (versus side or stomach), alcohol use, and sleep deprivation. Not all who snore have sleep apnea or another condition, however, snoring is a sign often experienced by those with sleep disorders, so it is best to identify the cause of your snoring with a sleep specialist.

5Common Signs

  • The generation of noise during sleep and bed partner disruption
  • Swelling/discomfort in the back of the throat upon waking up
  • Enlarged uvula
  • Morning dry mouth
  • Morning headaches

Diagnosis and Treatment

A diagnosis is often made by a bed partner or observer who has heard noise while you sleep. For those who've been told they snore, it is highly recommended you obtain a sleep study to ensure that your snoring is not a sign of a more serious disorder. There are a number of smart phone apps that can help document snoring in the absence of a bed partner or a bed partner that is a deep sleeper (e.g., SnoreLab).

Even when people don't clearly stop breathing (sleep apnea), there may be consequences to isolated snoring. There is a wide range of treatment options including positional therapy, oral appliances/mouth guards, minimally invasive procedures, such as Elevoplasty and radiofrequency ablation, and surgeries.

Meet Our Team

Our sleep team consists of board-certified sleep doctors who are dedicated to helping you sleep and breathe better. As leaders in the field, we use the latest techniques to properly diagnosis and manage the entire breadth of sleep disorders.


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