Loud snoring isn’t just an irritation to everyone in earshot. It can also signal a health problem. There are lots of causes of snoring, some benign and some indicative of potentially serious health issues.
According to the Mayo Clinic, half of all adults snore at times. The sound comes as your throat passage is narrowed and air passes over the relaxed throat tissue. The snarfling sound that results can be soft and inoffensive or quite loud and disruptive.
Obesity can cause snoring. The excessive tissue can constrict the throat passage and make snoring more likely. If this is the case, losing weight can often correct the problem. But it becomes more serious if obesity is combined with other causes. The more soft tissue at rest with air passing around it, the more likely it will result in loud snoring.
Your sleep position can cause snoring. Sleeping on your back rather than on your side can cause a relaxation of throat muscles and constriction that often results in snoring. While there are mouth guards and nasal passage-opening devices available, it may just be a case where sleeping on your side stops the loud snoring.
Since anything that significantly relaxes your throat muscles can induce snoring, alcohol use is one culprit. Besides making driving dangerous and tending to make you sleepy, alcohol relaxes those throat muscles that can cause you to snore. The nearer to sleep time you imbibe, the more likely you will snore.
The shape of the tissues in your mouth can contribute to a propensity to snore. The more constricted the airway, the louder the snore. For instance, an unusually long and soft uvula (the soft piece that hangs from the back of your throat) can cause loud snoring. Other possible physical causes include swollen adenoids or tonsils, which can each contribute to the likelihood of snoring.
Nasal abnormalities like a deviated septum can cause snoring. Add any of the other factors, like obesity, alcohol use or sleeping on your back and what may have been an occasional, minor irritation can become much more offensive to your family or partner.
Sleep apnea can result from an actual obstruction in the throat. An occasional obstruction in the airway can partially or fully close the breathing passage briefly without necessarily waking the sleeper. This can happen from once to 100 times per hour. Without a partner or family member to report the problem and loud snoring that results, the sufferer may have no idea why he is never fully rested after sleeping. Someone living alone may have to be observed at a sleep clinic to diagnose the problem.