What is Snoring? Meaning

A snore or snoring is a hoarse sound that you produce from the mouth or nose when you breathe during sleep — usually when you breathe in.

It occurs when the inspired turbulent air flows through the airway, causing the uvula and soft palate to vibrate and produce the snoring sound.

Snoring is a sound that is produced primarily when you breathe in (inspiration) essentially when you are asleep. It is caused by the vibration of the soft tissues of the palate and the pillars of the oropharyngeal inlet. It occurs due to the incomplete obstruction of the upper airway.

The sound can come from the nose, the mouth, or from both. It can occur at any stage of the sleep: NREM stage or the REM stage.

It originates in the collapsible part of the upper airway, which does not have firm support. This is the part, which extends from the epiglottis to the posterior nasal aperture.

The parts of the pharynx that are involved in producing the snoring sound include the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, the base of the tongue, the pharyngeal muscles, and its membranes.

Studies indicate that about half of all people snore at times and they are more commonly men. It also tends to get worse with advancing age.

About 50% of all men and 35% of women snore occasionally but 25% of people are habitual snorers. It also tends to run in families and the tendency to snore more increases as you grow older. However, men tend to snore less after the age of 70 years.

Snoring does impact sharing the bed with your bed partner. This can have effects on a relationship because it disrupts the sleep of your partner and can cause him/her daytime sleepiness and irritability.

Habitual snorers are usually left to sleep alone. However, some self-help measures and medical assistance can help get rid of this habit.

Snoring can be normal in most cases when it is soft. It can be a result of some pathology such as sleep apnea when it is excessively loud.

Such loud snoring requires medical evaluation because sleep apnea, which is the cause can have serious complications. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and many other health problems.


There are four types of snorers: some with minor innocent causes and some with serious reasons, which should be investigated and treated.

1. Nose or nasal snoring

Nasal snoring sounds like a whistle or a grunt and is usually due to some obstruction in the nasal passage.

People who snore from the nose have a nasal blockage such as a stuffy nose, sinusitis or a swollen turbinate, or a nasal deviated septum.

A stuffy nose can be due to infection, inflammation, or an allergy. This can be treated by antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-allergy medicines. A nasal deviated septum will require surgery.

People who snore nasally usually suffer from headaches, a dry throat, and halitosis (bad breath).

2. Mouth snoring

You snore from the mouth when you have a condition, which blocks the airway in the throat or lower down.

This blockage could be due to your tongue falling back and blocking the airway. It can also be due to swollen tonsils, adenoids, the uvula, or soft tissues of the palate.

Mouth snoring is more common. When you snore with your mouth open, it is likely to indicate a problem with your throat’s soft tissues.

3. Tongue snoring

Snoring caused by the tongue is usually a high-pitched sound, which is inconsistent.

Tongue snoring occurs because when you sleep the tongue relaxes. As a result, it tends to fall back onto the airway when you sleep on your back.

At the back of the tongue is your airway through which air passes in and out from the lungs. The airway gets compressed and blocked making breathing difficult.

Tongue snorers are those who usually have thick tongues, drink alcohol, take sleeping pills, or are obese with more fat around the neck.

4. Loud snoring

When a person has loud snoring, he or she is very likely to be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. If diagnosed, you should not ignore this condition because of its long-term serious effects on the health of the person. Snoring caused by sleep apnea is the loudest and is intermittent.

It tends to awaken the person from his sleep so that his breathing can resume. This can happen more than one hundred times a night. The person with sleep apnea is, therefore, often sleep-deprived.

Studies indicate that loud snoring is associated with carotid artery atherosclerosis (which can lead to brain damage) and stroke.

Snoring cannot be cured but it can be controlled. The right way to control it is to find its cause and treat it.

Most of us go in for snoring aids without knowing its cause. Following this strategy does not help.

The cause of snoring may be due to smoking, alcohol, or taking sleeping pills. Stopping these will bring in significant control.

Or, it could just be due to your sleeping on your back whereby sleeping on your side could control your snoring.

Snoring that occurs when you sleep on your back is probably due to a mild cause. But if you snore in all sleeping positions, it is likely due to a more serious cause and requires medical evaluation and treatment.

Sleep apnea is the most common cause of loud chronic snoring. A sleep study should be done to confirm the diagnosis.

Your sleep doctor then will chart out your treatment plan. It can include CPAP, oral and dental devices, or/and surgery options. Treating the cause of snoring is necessary because its symptoms and complications can cause systemic side effects.