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Last updated on July 2, 2020

Snoring is a sound that is produced in the night when the air is trying to pass through the blocked passage of the upper airway causing fluttering of uvula (a floppy structure in the throat) producing the snoring sound. This is a very common condition and it is commonly believed that almost 25% of the population snores. Males have much higher prevalence of snoring as compared to females almost in the ratio of 3:1. There are multiple factors that increase the chances of snoring. Being obese leading to deposition of fat around the throat is the most common reason. The other reason being the facial structure where there is inherent crowding of structures in the throat, any degree of muscular weakness. Alcohol has a selective suppressive impact on the upper airway muscles thus making snoring more likely. Many drugs especially sedatives can also have similar action. Snoring is often worse when sleeping on the back (supine) since gravity also contributes to the same.

The sound can be annoying for the bed partner and can give them restless nights. It is known to be an important reason for marital discord. Marked improvement in relationships post-correction of snoring has also been documented in various field studies. The most important correlate of snoring is it being the sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is a condition where there are pauses in breathing (apneas) during night. This occurs when there is complete blockage to breathing during night and the body makes increasing effort to breathe against the closed passage leading to fall in the Oxygen level in the blood.  The brain is the most Oxygen sensitive structure in the body and as it starts to sense drop in Oxygen it sends signals making vigorous effort to breathe eventually leading to very short wake periods (micro-arousals) and the normal breathing is restored. This completely alters the symphony of sleep preventing transition from light to deeper sleep.  Bed partners often describe gradually increasing severity of snoring and a sudden pause in breathing followed by a sudden gasp of breathing. 

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There is an emerging trend of evidence that snoring even without OSA can have an adverse impact on the health. It is postulated that snoring which leads to vibrations in the carotid arteries in the neck sets off the cascade of atherosclerosis leading to the deposition of fat particles and other substances the arteries. This process is the primary pathway blamed for heart attacks.

Thus, snoring: the loud horse/harse noise should no longer be assumed as a sign of good health. Snoring may lead to many health implications if left unaddressed.

To know more about Snoring,Sleep Apnea and its health implications, meet Dr Pratibha Dogra, renowned Sleep Physician [+91 8882412434]