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What is snoring?

Snoring is often more of a problem for other people than it is for yourself. It’s the coarse, rattling noise that some people make when they breathe during sleep. It can be quiet or very loud and be persistent or just last for a short time.

Often, you may not even know that you snore - it may take someone telling you that you do to find out!

If you do snore, you may wake yourself up at night, which can lead to tiredness during the day, and the noise can keep your partner or other people you live with awake at night too.

It is a common condition, and is usually nothing serious, in fact most people will snore at some point or another in their lives. There are things you can do to try to prevent it, which we’ll cover in this article.

If it’s causing you, or other people issues, or if it’s keeping you awake at night, you can see a GP for more advice.

What causes snoring?

Snoring is usually caused by the vibration of the soft tissues in your tongue, mouth, throat or nose.

During sleep, parts of your body relax, including your tongue, mouth, nose and throat, and this can lead to floppiness in your airways. This causes vibrations, which in turn leads to snoring. It can also sometimes be caused by an abnormality in your nose.

Why do only certain people snore?

There are certain factors that can mean you’re more likely to snore. This includes if you:

  • are overweight - this is the most common reason, as the fat in your neck causes pressure on your airway
  • sleep on your back - gravity can cause your throat to narrow
  • are drunk - this can cause the muscles in your neck to relax
  • smoke - this can cause the back of your throat to become infected
  • have a problem with the back of your throat
  • take sleeping pills, as this can cause you to become too relaxed
  • have sleep apnoea, where your airways become blocked whilst you are asleep
  • have a cold, the flu or another condition that affects your airways
  • are a man - men are more commonly affected by snoring than women
  • are between the ages of 40 to 60, but it can affect anyone, including children

Snoring in children

If you have noticed that your child is snoring, then you should watch out for other symptoms such as a poor attention span and behavioural issues, caused by tiredness - it’s a sign they are waking up throughout the night.

Usually, their snoring can be put down to having a blocked nose, but if you’re worried, or if it happens regularly, then it is a good idea to talk to a doctor.

How is snoring diagnosed?

Before you speak to a GP, there are some things you can try yourself, such as losing weight if you are overweight and sleeping on your side. You can also try quitting smoking if you smoke and cut down on your alcohol intake if you drink.

You should speak to a GP if:

  • your snoring is affecting yours or your partner’s ability to sleep at night, or is having a negative impact on your relationship
  • you wake up regularly in the you night because of your snoring
  • you make gasping noises while sleeping - this could be due to sleep apnoea, which requires treatment

During an online consultation with Push Doctor, the GP will ask you about your general health, including your weight, how much you drink and whether you smoke - all of which could be causing your snoring. In most cases, you won’t need any tests, but if the GP cannot confirm what may be causing it, they may refer you to a specialist for more investigations.

What is the treatment for snoring?

Snoring cannot be cured, but it can be effectively treated and controlled in most cases. The most common treatments include:

  • Lose weight - if you are overweight then you will have more fat around your neck and this can limit the airflow and cause you to snore.
  • Sleep on your side - you can use pillow to prop yourself up on one side.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Stop smoking if you’re a smoker.
  • Wear nasal strips - if blocked nasal passages are causing you to breathe through your mouth.
  • Nasal dilators – these can help keep your nose open, encouraging you to breathe through it.
  • A chin strap - this keeps your mouth closed during the night.
  • A vestibular guard – this is a plastic mouth guard that forces you to breathe through your nose Stop taking sleeping pills - these can cause snoring
  • Mandibular advancement device - this device pushes your jaw and tongue forward to make more space in your airway.
  • If your snoring is down to another condition, medication may work - for example, if you have hayfever, antihistamines may help with decongestion.
  • Ear plugs - these are for your partner, not for yourself!

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnoea, you may need another kind of treatment, which can include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). 

In a small minority of cases surgery may be required. However, because it’s not guaranteed to work, it’s not often recommended is isn’t usually available on the NHS.

How can Push Doctor help?

You can speak to a GP at a time that suits you. Our caring doctors are ready to help seven days a week and from 6am to 11pm. You can use any device and have an online video consultation at a place that suits you, such as in your home, at work or while you are on the go.