Most people snore every now and then. But for some, snoring may turn into a chronic problem indicating an underlying health condition, such as sleep apnea.

Symptoms Indicating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

If snoring is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, then the individual may have a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA):

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty focusing during the day
  • Morning headaches
  • Restless sleep
  • Gasping, choking or snorting at night
  • Chest pain at night
  • High blood pressure
  • Loud snoring that disrupts partner’s sleep
  • Breathing pauses during sleep that are noticed by someone else
  • Poor attention span, behavioral problems or poor performance in school

Individuals with OSA snore loudly and then stop or nearly stop breathing for a period of time. This pause in breathing may cause the individual to wake up with a loud snort or gasping sound. This pattern of breathing may occur many times during the night and even all night.

OSA causes disturbances in sleep, leading to a light and nonrestorative sleep. Individuals experiencing any of these symptoms should speak to their doctor to find out if the snoring may be associated with obstructive sleep apnea.

Children who snore loudly may also have OSA. Their symptoms may be caused by enlarged tonsils or obesity, leading to a narrow airway.

Contact Us Today

What Causes Snoring?

Snoring may be caused by excess weight, alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, or anatomy of the mouth and sinuses.

As the body moves into a deep sleep, the muscles in the soft palate, tongue, and throat relax to the point of partially blocking the airway and vibrating. As the airway becomes more narrow, the airflow becomes more forceful, increasing vibrations and causing loud snoring.

The following factors may influence or lead to snoring:

  • Sleep position. Sleeping on the back may lead to loud snoring because gravity narrows the airway.
  • Alcohol consumption. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and weakens the body’s natural defenses against airway obstruction.
  • Nasal problems. A crooked septum or chronic nasal congestion may increase the likelihood of snoring.
  • Sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep may cause increased throat relaxation.
  • Mouth anatomy. Individuals who are overweight may have extra tissue in the back of the throat causing a narrow airway. Having a low, thick, and soft palate can also narrow the airway.

Risk Factors for Snoring

Some individuals may be more likely to snore if they:

  • Are male
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have a narrow airway
  • Drink alcohol
  • Have nasal problems
  • Have a family history of snoring or obstructive sleep apnea

Complications of Snoring

Chronic snoring may negatively affect a partner’s sleep and lead to poor mood and other consequences. If snoring is associated with obstructive sleep apnea, then the individual may be at increased risk of:

  • Being sleepy during the day
  • Being frequently angry or frustrated
  • Having a hard time concentrating
  • High blood pressure, heart conditions, and stroke
  • Behavior problems such as aggression, or learning problems in children
  • Falling asleep while driving and getting into an accident


Patients experiencing symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea should schedule a visit with their primary physician as soon as possible to identify the cause and begin treatment.