Snoring: what causes it & how can it be prevented?

While snoring is normally nothing to worry about, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition. Find out all you need to know in our latest blog.

Snoring: what causes it & how can it be prevented?

Snoring is a widespread condition that can disrupt the quality of your sleep. In fact, in the UK alone, snoring is known to affect 41.5% of adults.


While mild or occasional bouts of snoring are usually nothing to worry about, chronic snoring can have a significant impact on both you and whoever you’re sleeping next to. It can also elevate your risk of certain health conditions, such as stroke or heart attack.


In this article, we will teach you everything you need to know about snoring – from why we do it to the preventative measures you can take to ensure a good night’s rest.

What causes snoring?

Snoring occurs when tissues located at the back of your throat vibrate due to air flowing over them as you breathe in. When this happens, the air moving around in your throat causes the tissues to flutter, leading to a coarse snort, grunt, wheeze or rattling sound.


Snoring can also be brought on by a number of physical and lifestyle factors, all of which can elevate your risk. These include:


  • Anatomy – individuals with a naturally narrow throat, enlarged tonsils or a bigger tongue may be more prone to snoring.

  • Gender – snoring is more than twice as common in men than women. Not only that, but surveys have also shown that men are much louder snorers than women.

  • Age – since we lose muscle as we age, this causes the airways to narrow and snoring to become more prevalent over time.

  • Weight – having excess weight, especially around the neck, can increase your risk of snoring due to a more constricted airway.

  • Sleeping position – sleeping on your back can encourage your tongue to potentially collapse backwards into your throat, partially block your airway and cause you to snore.

  • Alcohol and sedatives – drinking alcohol and taking sedatives (sleeping pills) relaxes muscles in the throat, increasing your likelihood of snoring.

What are the symptoms of snoring?

While snoring may be mainly associated with the sounds it produces, there are several other symptoms the condition can cause. These include:


  • Poor quality of sleep

  • Dry throat when waking up

  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Headaches

  • Low mood and irritability

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Concentration difficulties


If your snoring is starting to cause problems for your partner, as well as yourself, make sure to consult a healthcare professional. They will be able to identify the cause of your snoring and recommend tailored treatment options.

Is snoring bad for you?

Generally speaking, snoring is not a cause for concern. However, in some instances, it can be a sign of an underlying health disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – a serious condition where your breathing stops and starts while you sleep, resulting in symptoms like daytime sleepiness and hypertension.


Depending on how much you are snoring, it could also signify a bigger problem. Snoring loudly enough for it to be heard in an adjacent room, for example, or more than three nights per week, could be a sign of OSA. So you may need to contact your doctor for their advice.

How is snoring diagnosed?

Unless your snoring is serious, you won’t normally need to talk to a healthcare professional. Making small lifestyle changes should usually be enough to help prevent mild or occasional cases of snoring.


However, if you have chronic snoring, arranging an appointment with your doctor will help you not only diagnose the cause but also find an appropriate treatment.


Here at OneWelbeck, for example, we offer two main ways to do this: a consultation with one of our respiratory consultants or our Sleep Studies diagnostic pathway – a dedicated program specifically designed to analyse your breathing and sleep behaviour.


During this program, we will take a full history and medical examination before running various tests, including blood tests and a sleep study, to identify the cause of your snoring. Get in touch with our team to find out more about this.

Effective ways to stop snoring

Identifying the most effective way of stopping snoring will depend on its level of severity and the types of problems it causes, as well as your pre-existing health history and personal preferences.


However, several strategies can make a big difference, especially in terms of improving your sleep posture and opening your airways:


  • Lifestyle modifications – changing your sleep position to sleep more on your side rather than your back can help reduce your level of snoring. Likewise, losing excess weight can reduce fat around your neck, alleviating any constriction of your airway.


  • Avoid certain triggers – alcohol, sedatives and smoking can all increase your likelihood of snoring. So cutting down on these closer to bedtime could help prevent your throat’s muscles from relaxing and discourage the snoring sounds.


If you notice that your snoring still hasn’t improved after making these lifestyle modifications, you will likely require further intervention and diagnostic tests to improve your lung health.

Snoring treatment options

Finding the right treatment for your snoring will depend on its cause. Therefore, you should speak with your doctor to find the best solution for you.


Some of the main snoring treatment options typically include:


  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines – the gold standard treatment for OSA, this mask connects to a machine that keeps your airways open throughout the night.

  • Mandibular advancement devices (MAD) – an alternative method used to treat OSA, a MAD works by moving your tongue and jaw forward in your mouth to stop your throat from becoming blocked while you sleep.

  • Vestibular shields – these are designed to encourage you to breathe through your nose, instead of your mouth.

  • Nasal dilators and decongestants – these keep your nasal passages open while you sleep to help you breathe more freely and reduce any swelling inside your nose.


In some severe cases, certain types of surgery may be required to treat your snoring. However, these are rarely the first-line treatment and other approaches will usually be recommended first.

Take control of your snoring with OneWelbeck

At OneWelbeck, we have helped numerous patients address their snoring. So, why not let us do the same for you?


Through our dedicated Sleep Studies program, our team of specialists can not only identify the cause of your snoring but also put you on the right treatment plan to prevent it from becoming a bigger issue.


We prioritise providing only the highest level of care to each of our patients, tailoring treatments around your exact needs and the type of snoring you have.


To find out more about this program, or ask us any further queries you might have, contact our team and we’d be happy to help.