Snoring is the noise that air makes when it is passing through relaxed tissue in the nose and throat during sleep. Most people will snore occasionally, especially when they have a cold, take certain medications or drink alcohol, but in some cases, the noise is so loud it can disturb their sleeping partner. In other cases, the snoring is accompanied by choking or gasping for air, known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can eventually contribute to health problems including heart and lung disease, stroke and diabetes. Symptoms can include daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, morning headaches and behavioral problems in children.
Diagnosis begins with a physical exam, occasionally endoscopic visualization of the airway anatomy (flexible laryngoscopy) or imaging with a CT or MRI, as well as a sleep study that is done either in a lab overnight or in your home at night time.
Snoring can come from nasal obstruction as well as redundant tissue in the throat such as large tonsils or a large tongue base. Obesity is also a factor in snoring and sleep apnea. Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can include lifestyle changes including cutting out alcohol before bed and losing weight, as well as a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure), which uses air through a mask to stent the airways open during sleep. Patients that cannot tolerate CPAP may be candidates for in office or surgical procedures depending on their specific anatomy and the severity of the sleep apnea.