What is Snoring?
Snoring occurs when the muscles in the throat become so relaxed during sleep that they cannot hold the inner airway fully open. The airway then becomes narrow and its tissues vibrate with each breath. The tissue vibration causes the snoring sound.
Snoring itself can be harmless, even if it is very loud. However, snoring that contains periods of silence, followed by choking or snorting sounds, might be a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The silence happens when that vibrating airway becomes narrow enough to actually collapse, or obstruct. Because air cannot pass through the obstructed airway, the tissue vibration and the snoring sounds stop. Apnea, or absence of breathing, results.
Essentially, obstructive sleep apnea is snoring in its most dangerous form.
How To Tell If You Have Unhealthy Snoring
Ask yourself the following questions (+):
Do you snore loudly?
Do you feel tired or sleepy during your waking hours?
Have you been told that you stop breathing, gasp or choke when you sleep?
Do you have high blood pressure or are you being treated for high blood pressure?
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you may suffer from a sleep-related disorder. For example, loud snoring may be a sign of OSA, a potentially serious disorder.
Physicians interested in Snoring
Dr. Neil Smith and Dr. Robin LeBlanc are Otolaryngologists (Ear, Nose and Throat surgeons) in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia currently practicing out of Dartmouth ENT Associates on Baker Drive with an interest in sleep and snoring. They are credentialed in snoring related surgery for the upper airway.
+ Vasu, TS. et al. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010;136(10):1020-1024