Snoring could be a sign of a serious breathing condition

Nearly half of all adults snore, and about one in four people are regular snorers.

Occasional snoring rarely poses any serious problems, although it can become an annoyance to the bed partners of people who snore. However, regular snoring can be serious; not only because it disrupts the sleep patterns of bed partners but because it also deprives the snorer of quality rest. Severe snoring problems may require medical attention.

Snoring occurs when breathing is partially blocked and air cannot freely move through the nose and mouth during sleep. This blockage results when the muscles of the mouth and throat over relax causing them to obstruct the airflow into the lungs. As the airways narrow, the breath becomes more concentrated and forceful, causing structures in the mouth and upper throat to vibrate. When the tissue vibration increases, the snoring sounds grow ever louder. 

Habitual snorers are often tired after a night of what would have otherwise resulted in quality rest. As a result, snorers frequently become chronically fatigued, with many being able to fall asleep almost anywhere at any time.

Although seasonal allergies, colds, swollen glands, and a deviated septum can contribute to snoring, alcohol consumption near bedtime and being overweight are the leading causes of snoring.

Snoring can also be a symptom of a potentially serious sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing becomes irregular during sleep. Sufferers can actually stop breathing for periods of 10 seconds or more, with up to hundreds of episodes occurring each night. This causes a serious drop in oxygen.

Long standing cases of sleep apnea can result in higher blood pressure which in turn increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. Those with sleep apnea often have headaches upon rising and feel tired throughout the day. Sleep apnea requires a medical diagnosis.

Many people can reduce or eliminate snoring with simple life changes. Establishing regular sleep times is important. Loosing weight can be a major factor in reducing snoring. Avoiding heavy meals, alcohol, tranquilizers, and antihistamines four hours before going to may bed can also be very beneficial. Sleeping on your side rather than your back and raising the head of the bed has also proved helpful.

Some snorers have also found that adhesive nasal strips applied to the nose at bedtime can increase airflow and reduce the vibrations that lead to snoring.