What causes snoring?

Almost half the adult population in the world suffers from snoring. Considering that number would include celebrities and the so-called beautiful people, if you snore, you're probably in good company.

Just what causes those gurgly sounds? Often, they sound like someone is trying to choke you to death in your sleep. But the snoring/choking sounds prevalent in snoring have nothing to do with whatever it is that you're dreaming. Many victims of snoring have no idea what causes it.

People with stuffy noses and blocked up sinuses are more likely to be snorers. If you have enlarged tonsils, loose tongue or a long palate, you also are more likely to be a snorer. Men are more likely to be snorers, and people who are overweight or obese are very much more likely to snore during sleep. When people are obese, they develop fatty tissue in their necks that constrict their airways and that vibrate when they breathe.

Snoring is not a laughing matter. People often joke about "window-rattlers", but snoring can be a serious problem leading to serious health issues. Snoring is often indicative of breathing problems. If you repeatedly fail to take in enough oxygen for prolongued periods, you risk damage to your heart, leading to hypertension, heart failure and even cardiac arrest. Therefore, it is important to find out what causes snoring, and what can be done about it. Snoring often worsens with age. And snoring doesn't just go away without dealing with the underlying causes.

If you are overweight or obese, losing your excess weight will often clear up the snoring (and apnea) problems. Also, manufacturers of nasal strips -- those bandaid-like things that people can stick on their noses -- claim that using their product enhances breathing through the nose thereby eliminating the sounds produced by snoring.

Some people have found relief from snoring by using a contoured pillow in bed. These contoured pillows supposedly support the head and neck in a posture that keeps a person's airway open, thus improving breathing and reducing snoring.

There also are mouthpieces -- called mandibular advancement splints -- that you can wear at night to help improve your breathing by forcing the lower jaw forward, thus opening up the throat. They also raise the soft palate in the mouth whose vibrations are often the source of the snoring sound. While some cheaper imports of these devices are available over the counter, many people still end up going to their dentists to have ones custom built for them. This can be somewhat expensive, but since the device seems to cure most cases of snoring, it can be considered to be a good investment.

There are medicines that can help, including herbal remedies that some claim eliminate snoring. Some of the better known concoctions include: Snore MD, Goodnight StopSnore spray, Snoreless, and Snore Calm Herbal Spray. While they may claim that they are safe and effective, you should do some online research before trying non-medicinal herbal remedies. Also, if you suffer from frequent or persistent sinusitis, you can try inhaling steam or using saline nasal sprays just before bedtime to help open up the nasal passages and enable you to breathe through your nose.

For more serious cases of snoring and apnea, there are machines like the CPAP that creates constant positive pressure to keep your throat open. If none of these treatments work, there are surgical procedures that can eliminate the problem.

If your snoring is causing breathing problems -- skipped breaths or prolongued shallow breathing -- seek medical attention. This is not a laughing matter, and the problem, left untreated, won't just go away.

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