Snoring and sleep apnea are common sleep disorders that can affect breathing and prevent patients from getting a sufficient amount of rest each night. When air flows past our throat while sleeping, the tissues vibrate and create the sounds we recognize as snoring. Snoring is very common and occurs at least occasionally in almost half of all adults.
When we sleep, our throat muscles relax and vibrate when air tries to pass through but is blocked. Snoring can be brought on by nasal congestion, alcohol consumption, sleep apnea or simply the anatomy of your mouth. If your tonsils are enlarged, your airway can be narrower and vibrate more when air tries to flow through. Being overweight can also contribute to a narrowed airway.
Heavy snorers may suffer from sleep apnea, a condition when snoring is frequently interrupted by periods of completely obstructed breathing. Sleep apnea affects about 18 million people of all ages in the U.S. and takes three forms: obstructive, central and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form, occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the throat closes, blocking (obstructing) the person’s airway.