What is snoring? Why does it occur? Are there different types of snoring?

Snoring is the sound that is generated when air flows past the relaxed muscle tissue of the throat. While, for some people, snoring can be a very serious health problem, most people snore now and then. Above all, snoring can be an absolute nuisance to the people who have to live with it.

Snoring can be caused by a number of factors. While a person is asleep or progressing from light to deep sleep state, muscles of the throat, tongue and roof of the mouth relax. Sometimes, they relax so much that they block the airway and start vibrating. Narrower the airway, the more forceful the airflow becomes. This increases the vibration of the tissues, which in turn lead to louder snoring.

A sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is often associated with snoring, though not all people who snore have OSA.

The following are what can affect the airway and lead to snoring.

1.Problems off or in the nostril. If the partition between the left and right nostrils is crooked, called a Deviated Nasal Septum, it may cause snoring. So does a severely congested nostril.
2.Lack of sleep. Insufficient or disturbed sleep can lead to relaxation of the throat muscles, and hence to snoring.
3.Sleep position. Snoring is loudest and more frequent when sleeping on one’s back, as gravity further constricts the muscle.
4.Anatomical structure of the mouth. Overweight people can have extra tissue in the back of the throat, which can constrict the airways. Soft, thick and low roof of the mouth can narrow the airways. Also, the vibration can increase if the uvula; the teardrop shaped piece of tissue hanging from the back of the mouth, is longer than is normal.
5.Excess alcohol consumption can also cause snoring.

Types of snoring:

Snoring can be classified into the following types:
1.Nose based snoring: Physical obstruction/blockage in the nostril; nasal congestion caused by allergies, cold or even if just using a particular type of medication.
2.Mouth based snoring: This obviously occurs when the person breathes through the mouth. When a person cannot breathe through the nostril due to blockage of some kind, the body automatically starts breathing through the mouth, which leads to more vibration and hence snoring.
3.Tongue based snoring: This happens when the tongue gets extremely relaxed blocking the flow of air into the lungs. This type occurs more frequently in people who consume alcohol or use sleep medication. Excess fat around the neck is also known to cause snoring.

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