Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring happens when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the nose and mouth, where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. All these structures vibrate during breathing and create the sound of snoring.

Snoring can be a sign of problems with the tonsils and adenoids, poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue (when too relaxed the tongue falls backwards into the airway), excessive bulkiness of the throat from swollen tonsils and adenoids, cysts or tumors, or being overweight with excess soft tissue in the neck. A long opening from the nose to the throat and an obstructed nasal airway from nasal deformities such as a deviated septum can also cause snoring.

Snoring may also be the sign of a more serious, potentially life-threatening condition called sleep apnea, where there are several episodes of breathing pauses caused by upper airway narrowing or collapse. This results in less oxygen, causing the heart to work harder and poor rest. Sleep apnea can be treated with a device that opens up the airways with a small amount of pressure delivered through a nasal mask worn during sleep. Surgery may also treat snoring and sleep apnea.


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