The noises, sounds, eruptions, gargles and other auditory traumas associated with snoring are impossible to express adequately in print. The effects upon a spouse or entire family may be sufficient to lead to arguments, fights or even divorce and mental illness. The greatest problem with snoring is that the snorer is often unaffected, but those around him (and most snorers are male) are the victims.
Snoring is the production of a harsh, rough sound caused by the passage of air through the mouth, throat and nose during sleep. It can occur intermittently during colds, flu or throat infections and with hay fever because of the excess production of phlegm and the swelling of tissues at these times, or it may occur almost every night.
In persistent cases, snoring is due to the vibration of the uvula or soft palate with the movement of air in and out of the mouth. The uvula is the piece of tissue that can be seen hanging down the back of the throat when the mouth is wide open, and the soft palate is the back part of the roof of the mouth, to which the uvula is attached. In some cases snoring is associated with periods when the breathing stops completely for up to a minute (sleep apnoea), which is due to collapse of the soft tissues of the throat during sleep. It may cause significant health problems to the sufferer.
Other causes include enlargement of the tonsils or adenoids at the back of the throat, a broken nose that has an abnormal shape, polyps in the nose, or other distortions of the shape of the nose or throat.
The excessive use of alcohol, sleeping pills or sedatives will relax the tissues and muscles in the throat to make snoring more likely.
Smoking can increase the secretion of phlegm in the nose and sinuses, and cause persistent inflammation of the throat, which also increases the risk of snoring.
If severe, snoring may need to be investigated in a sleep laboratory, where the patient can be monitored through an entire night.