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Stop snoring online: Ways to stop snoring naturally - Identifying the cause of your snoring

Here, you will understand why you snore and gain the information you need to reduce or even stop your snoring

On this page we will go through the different causes of snoring in language you can understand. The purpose of this is for you, as you read through this web page, to identify which applies with you or your loved one

Let's get started

Mechanism of snoring: Although the anterior [front] part of the mouth and upper airways is supported by cartilage or bone, The posterior [back] part of the mouth and nose, otherwise called the nasopharynx is mainly supported, and kept open, by soft tissue. This soft tissue is mainly muscle, called the nasopharyngeal muscles.

During sleep, we loose a bit of muscle tone. This loss of tone also affects the nasopharyngeal muscles, thereby narrowing the upper airways a little. In some people, this loss of tone causes a critical point to be reached where there is turbulence in the stream of air flowing in and out through the nasopharynx. This turbulence causes vibrations of the nasopharyngeal soft tissue, resulting in snoring.

Causes of snoring: In your quest to find ways to stop snoring it is crucial to first identify what the cause of your snoring is.

Although most causes are benign, it is important to highlight that snoring may be a symptom of serious disease so if you have any doubt at all, you MUST consult your doctor.

Swelling of the lining [epithelium] of the airways:
  • Cold or Catarrh: These sufferers only snore when they have a cold. The virus causing the cold causes some swelling of the lining of the airways [the mucosa] resulting in narrowing of the airway. Also the mucus produced causes further narrowing of the passage.

  • Allergic rhinitis: Allergic rhinitis refers to a runny nose caused by allergy to something, usually pollen but could be perfumes, house dust, anything airborne. The allergy causes the lining of the nose and throat to swell a little [remember that stuffy feeling!]. It is this swelling that causes snoring. Sometimes you may not even have a runny nose component to this so ask yourself. Is your snoring worse during periods of high pollen count?

  • Smoking: Everyone knows smoke from cigarettes or cigars is an irritant. Including the person smoking them. Inhaling smoke, passively or actively can result in irritation of the nasopharynx. Irritation leads to mucosal swelling and you know what could result from this.
An excess of soft tissue:
  • Obesity: One of the commonest causes of snoring. No-one likes to admit it   but some of us are overweight. And this excess weight goes everywhere, ncluding the area around the neck and in the supporting structure of the neck. This causes a reduction in the space available to airflow during breathing.
The excess fat also weakens the nasopharyngeal muscles making them more floppy. You can appreciate how this increases the risk of snoring during sleep
  • Large Uvula: The uvula is the dangly thing that you see at the back of your mouth when you say ah to a mirror. In some people, the Uvula is quite large. This can fall backwards during sleep, partially blocking the airway, resulting in snoring.

  • Large Adenoids: The adenoids are tonsillar tissue the mst familiar of which is the tonsils. But we have a lot more adenoid tissue around the back of our mouths than just the tonsils. And they are distributed in a ring shape!
If the adenoids are enlarged, [remember the ring] the resulting reduction in the caliber or width of the airways canlead to snoring when the airway muscle tone is reduced by sleep.
  • Large Turbinates: The turbinates are shelves of cartilage covered by epithelium, found in both nasal passages. Obviously, enlargement of the turbinates would result in the narrowing of the air passages making snoring more likely.

  • Nasal Polyps or Cysts. Nasal polyps are again dangly things that occur in the nose as a result of too much lining or an overgrowth of the lining. This usually occurs after chronic or prolonged irritation e.g in people with allergic rhinitis. The polyps can grow to very large proportions. I once treated a hap whose polyp was hanging out of his nostril. It is easy to imagine how a nasal polyp can cause partial airway obstruction leading to snoring.

  • Tumors: Although this is rare, this is a possible cause of snoring. A mass, anywhere in the upper airway, has the potential to critically reduce the space in the nasal passages. Again this narrowing becomes exacerbated during sleep, because of the reduction in the tone of the muscles that occurs during sleep.

  • The tongue: When you sleep on your back, the tongue can fall back causing a partial obstruction of your airways
Muscle weakness:
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Strokes
  • Any disease that can affect the nerve supply to the upper airway
  • Alcohol
  • Age: the older we get the less toned our muscles become
Anatomical variables:
  • Deviated septum. The septum is the piece of cartilage and bone that divides the nose into two halves. Sometimes as an anatomical variation or as a result of trauma, the septum can shift to one side.. This results in one smaller nasal passage and a larger one. The turbulence that occurs when air flows through the narrow passage can be percieved as snoring

  • Jaw deformities
  • Small nostrils
  • Small posterior nares. The posterior nares are the openings between the back of the nose and the throat. Sometimes these can be congenitally narrowed resulting in increase vibration of the air flowing through them.

Snoring in women:
Women are generally less likely to snore than men. However there are two circumstances during which an increased occurrence of snoring has been noted in women
  • During Pregnancy: The hormones produced during pregnancy cause smooth muscle relaxation. Also the presence of the fetus pushes up on the diaphragm
  • After Menopause
The above is just a review of some of the causes of snoring. In your case you need to do the necessary research to find out what the cause of your snoring is.

Identifying the cause of snoring in any individual case is crucial for two reasons

  • Rule out underlying serious illness
  • If you are going to learn how to stop snoring, it is important that you identify the cause so that you can use the appropriate remedy.
Finally you should be clear what type of snoring you have in your exploration of ways to stop snoring

  • Primary Snoring: Also called simple snoring. In this, sleep is noisy but there are no episodes of apnoea [stoppage of breathing]. This is more a nuisance for bed partners than anything else. Also results in dry mouth in the sufferer. There is no associated insomnia.

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea: This is more serious because it is snoring associated with periods of no breathing. The sufferer wakes from sleep, gasping for breath and then goes back to sleep. This can lead to several interruptions of sleep during the course of the night. These sufferers are always tired, fall asleep during the day and experience serious disruption of their quality of life.

This guide on ways to stop snoring is targeted primarily to people with simple snoring. If you suffer from Obstructive sleep apnoea you should consult your physician.

Disclaimer: This is not a medical website and all advise given is not on a professional level. This site is for information purposes only. Please consult your physician if you are concerned about any health related problems you have

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