Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Topic Overview

Snoring is a major symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). But even though most people who have sleep apnea snore, not all people who snore have sleep apnea.

Snoring occurs when the flow of air from the mouth or nose to the lungs is disturbed during sleep, usually by a blockage or narrowing in the nose, mouth, or throat (airway).

  • If you snore and do not have sleep apnea, your snoring is steady and does not disturb your sleep. You do not stop breathing and oxygen levels in your blood do not change.
  • In sleep apnea, how loud and how often you snore changes often. Your snoring disturbs your sleep, your breathing stops at times, and oxygen levels in your blood go down.

If you are overweight, you may have more tissue in your neck, which can press down on the airway at night and block some of the airflow. Although your breathing does not stop, your breaths may be smaller, so the oxygen levels in your blood may go down. You may snore loudly and sleep badly.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
Current as of June 25, 2013

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