Snoring, symptoms and causes

Snoring, symptoms and causes

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that 45% of adults, men and women combined, snore occasionally. A real nocturnal scourge for many couples, it wakes the person sharing the snorer's bed and sometimes the snorers themselves.

What is snoring?

Snoring is a low-pitched sound that occurs when the flow of air you breathe makes the tissue at the back of your throat vibrate. The sound is repeated with each breath and comes with an opening of the mouth, however small. It often occurs during deep sleep.

What are the symptoms?

The most obvious is, of course, the noise, which can be as loud as 45 decibels, even for a moderate snorer. Heavy snorers can produce up to 100 decibels, the noise of a 30000 pounds truck. Other symptoms are:

  • Fatigue,
  • Drowsiness,
  • Impaired quality of life (depression, irritability...).


Very loud snoring, correlated with weight gain and occurring in all positions, is probably indicative of a sleep apnea syndrome.

What are the causes?

A deviated nasal septum is the most common cause of snoring, but any nasal obstruction, regardless of its origin, can cause snoring. These obstructions provoke a backward flow in the back of the throat which in turn makes the soft tissues vibrate, especially when there is fat and/or the back of the throat is a bit narrow (which is often the case for people with receding chins for example).

What are the risk factors?

The chances of developing sleep apnea increase in the following cases:

  • Being overweight.
  • Taking sleeping pills, which causes relaxation of the soft tissue in your throat.
  • Nasal congestion, whatever the cause, which forces breathing through the mouth during sleep and promotes airflow into the upper respiratory tract.
  • Alcohol abuse and smoking.

For more information, we invite you to read the second post in this series "Snoring, consequences and treatments".

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Are you interested in all this information because you sleep with a snorer or snorer? Go and read our post "Sleeping with a snorer".

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