Snoring is something we have all joked about. And fair enough, snoring can be a bit comical can it not?! But it is also a potentially serious sign of underlying medical trouble and it can certainly also be quite disturbing…

Snoring refers to any form of loud breathing during sleep. Common causes include:

  • Nasal congestion (occurs with allergies in particular)
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • Soft palate abnormalities (usually tissues that are excessively soft and flexible)
  • Alcohol
  • Sedatives and sleeping pills
  • Sleep apnoea – a dangerous condition where people stop breathing during sleep

It is very common for no specific cause to be identified in people who snore.

Nasal congestion and allergy is a fairly common cause of snoring and will always be considered.

Laxity of the soft palate may cause snoring and modern surgical techniques may be able to correct this.

Sleep apnoea is the most important consideration because it is linked to complications such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Sometimes, a person’s sleeping partner will have noticed episodes where the patient seems to stop breathing, only to restart breathing in a sudden, noisy manner. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnoea is to observe the patient is a sleep lab, where his or her behaviour during sleep can be observed.

Snoring can be quite disruptive and there are several causes that might be treatable. In particular, any person who snores and seems to stop breathing during sleep should be very carefully assessed because sleep apnoea is an important, and treatable, medical condition.