National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 8: Isolated Symptoms


Snoring is a respiratory sound that occurs when a person inhales or exhales; it is very common and is associated with a full range of impact — from none to a severe impact on the person’s quality of life, daytime functioning, and health.

Snoring “is not caused by a single, localized abnormality within the airway.”20 Snoring can occur because of a sinus infection or congestion; deviated septum; nasal polyps; vibration of the membranous parts of the upper airway (i.e., soft palate, uvula, etc.); or poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue. It can be exacerbated by obesity, sleep stage, sleep position, the use of alcohol or sleep medications, and other factors.21

It is extremely important to rule out conditions such as sleep apnea when treating snoring. Frequent, loud snoring is often a sign of sleep apnea, which can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and cause daytime sleepiness and impaired performance.22

Snoring occurs in about 10 percent of children, 25 percent of adult women, and 40 percent of adult men. The prevalence of snoring increases during pregnancy, as well as with age and Body Mass Index.23 In adults, age, obesity, smoking, asthma, and nasal congestion are independent risk factors for habitual snoring.24

In some cases, snoring might be managed with behavior and lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight, stopping smoking, not taking sedative drugs, and reducing alcohol intake.25 Positional therapy—in which a person sleeps lying on his or her side, in a lateral position with the head of the bed elevated—can help with snoring.

Medical treatment for allergy, such as inhaled nasal corticosteroids, may be helpful.

There are more than 300 patented devices to prevent snoring, which may work for some individuals. Surgical options for the treatment of snoring include palatal implants and laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty; the indication for using these procedures for non-apneic snoring is unclear, however.26,27


20 Li C, and V Hoffstein, “Snoring,” In Kryger M, Roth T, Dement W (ed.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th Edition), St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, pp. 1171-1182.

21 Li C, and V Hoffstein, “Snoring,” In Kryger M, Roth T, Dement W (ed.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th Edition), St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, pp. 1171-1182.

22 Ulualp, S., Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, Med Clin North Am;94(5):1047-55, 2010.

23 American Academy of Sleep Medicine. International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 3rd edition: Diagnostic and Coding Manual. Darien, I: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2014.

24 Young T, Finn L, Palta M. Chronic nasal congestion at night is a risk factor for snoring in a population-based cohort study. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161:1514–1519.

25 Parker RJ, Hardinge M, Jeffries C. Snoring. BMJ. 2005;331:1063.

26 Larrosa F, Hernandez L, Morello A, Ballester E, Quinto L, Montserrat JM. Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty for snoring: does it meet the expectations? Eur Respir J. 2004;24:66-70.

27 Hofmann T, Schwantzer G, Reckenzaun E, Koch H, Wolf G. Radiofrequency tissue volume reduction of the soft palate and UPPP in the treatment of snoring. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2006;263:164-170.