Word on Health

Word on Snoring

Our thanks to the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association for their input to our 'on-air' radio report which you can hear again further down this page. Our thanks also to NHS Choices for the use of the information below. 

Snoring As many as one in three adults snore regularly. Snoring can affect people of all ages, including children, although it's more common in adults aged 40-60. Twice as many men than women snore.  As a result, millions of partners and neighbours suffer sleep-disturbed nights.

The noise of snoring is caused by parts of the nose and throat - in particular, the soft palate - vibrating as you breathe in and out. At night, the muscles that help keep your airways open relax and become flaccid. This causes the airways to narrow and vibrate more, making snoring more likely. 

There are also a number of factors that can make snoring worse, including;

  • Alcohol or sleeping tablets - these relax the muscles even further.
  • Being overweight - this puts pressure on the airways.
  • Colds, allergies, nasal polyps, a damaged or crooked nose - can block the nose, causing you to breathe through your mouth.
  • Smoking - smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to snore because their airways get inflamed and blocked.
  • Sleeping on your back.
When to see your GP You should see a GP if your snoring is affecting aspects of your life, such as causing excessive tiredness and poor concentration, or relationship problems with your partner. If your child snores, you should also speak to your GP.

Excessive daytime sleepiness should be taken seriously because it increases the risk of a road traffic accident. The Department for Transport estimates that one in five road traffic accidents are caused by excessive sleepiness. It can also cause accidents with the use of machinery and vehicles, such as cranes and forklift trucks.
Snoring can sometimes indicate a more serious related condition called obstructive sleep apnoea, where a person’s airways repeatedly become partially or totally blocked for about 10 seconds throughout the night. See your GP if you wake up gasping or choking during the night. 

Treatment Snoring is something that cannot be halted at will, neither is it something that can be cured. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, are usually recommended first. 

  1. Anti-snoring devices, such as mouth guards or nasal strips, may help prevent snoring.
  2. Surgery may be an option if anti-snoring devices don't help. This often involves removing the soft tissue that causes snoring, or preventing the tissue from vibrating by causing it to tighten.

Surgery for snoring is usually regarded as a treatment of last resort. It's important to be aware that surgery can often have a limited effect that doesn't last longer than one or two years. It can also cause unpleasant side effects or complications.

According to the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association the key to finding a solution to control snoring is to know what causes it, they offer interactive snoring tests to help, which you can access by clicking here.

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.