Is Snoring a Sign of a More Serious Condition?

Is Snoring a Sign of a More Serious Condition?

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The more we learn about sleep, the more we understand how vital it is to our overall well-being. Unfortunately, getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging at times. Stress, caffeine, poor work/life balance and, these days, dealing with an ongoing pandemic can make getting the recommended eight hours of sleep seem nearly impossible.

Additionally, one of the chief barriers to restful sleep is snoring. Often, we think of snoring as a problem for the non-snoring bed partner. But both partners suffer when one snores.

Anatomy of a snore

“Just as the rest of our body relaxes during sleep, the muscles in our airway loosen, which causes the throat and the rear of the mouth cavity to narrow,” says Hussein Kiliddar, MD, Pulmonologist at Cooper University Health Care. “As air flows past that relaxed tissue, it vibrates, causing the hoarse or harsh sound commonly known as snoring.”

Most snoring is classified as either “light” or “primary.” Light snoring occurs infrequently (fewer than three times a week). Primary snoring occurs more than three times a week. Neither type is usually considered a health concern unless accompanied by signs of sleep disruption.

Light or primary snoring often improve with simple lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Losing weight, which can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat to alleviate snoring.
  • Avoiding alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Sleeping on your side.
  • Using oral devices that position the tongue and jaw.
  • Switching to a snore-reducing pillow that keeps your head and neck in proper alignment when you sleep.
  • Reducing nasal congestion by treating allergies or using an air purifier to remove airborne particles.

Signs that symptoms may indicate more than snoring

When tissue loosens so much during sleep that it collapses, it can block the airway and interrupt breathing. This is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious condition that can affect health.

“People with sleep apnea usually experience periods during sleep when breathing slows or stops, sometimes multiple times per hour,” said Dr. Kiliddar. “They may stop breathing for 10 seconds or more. In extreme cases, a person can stop breathing for up to a minute.”

When a person stops breathing, even momentarily, the brain awakens slightly to a lighter stage of sleep, preventing the deepest, most restful sleep. This disruption in respiration can be followed by a loud snort, choking, or gasping that can wake the person. These repeated micro awakenings leave them feeling tired and groggy the next day.

People who experience OSA also usually have several of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Morning headaches
  • Sore throat on waking

When it’s time to seek help

Treatment for OSA usually includes using a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) device, which consists of a blower connected to a tube and mask that blows air to maintain steady pressure in the airway. This constant pressure keeps the airway from collapsing, which supports normal breathing.

CPAP is highly effective for most people, but it can require a period of adjustment. Masks cover the nose and sometimes the mouth and can feel awkward. Several mask options are available, and health care providers can work with patients to find the design that is most comfortable.

More severe cases can be treated with surgery that widens the airway opening by removing nearby tissue.

Don’t ignore snoring

“It is easy to dismiss snoring as an inevitable result of aging or an unavoidable condition based on physiology,” said Dr. Kiliddar. “But, while snoring increases as we age and is made worse by weight gain, it can lead to serious health complications if left untreated.”

If you notice snoring or the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in yourself or your partner, talk to your health care provider. Depending on the severity of the condition, your provider may order a sleep study to diagnose and determine the best course of treatment.

“At Cooper, we offer comprehensive care to diagnose and treat sleep apnea,” said Dr. Kiliddar. “Our state-of-the-art Sleep Center in Voorhees provides in-depth, precise information that allows us to customize a treatment plan to meet each patient’s specific needs.”

The most important thing you can do is to seek treatment right away. Getting help for snoring and sleep apnea can improve your health and lead to a better night’s sleep for you and your partner.

To speak with a sleep specialist about snoring and sleep apnea, call 800.8.COOPER (800.826.6737) or use our online appointment request form to make an appointment.


Signos de que los síntomas pueden indicar más que ronquidos

Cuando el tejido se afloja tanto durante el sueño que colapsa, puede bloquear las vías respiratorias e interrumpir la respiración. Esto se conoce como apnea obstructiva del sueño (AOS), una enfermedad grave que puede afectar la salud.

“Las personas con apnea del sueño generalmente experimentan períodos durante el sueño cuando la respiración se ralentiza o se detiene, a veces varias veces por hora”, dijo el Hussein Kiliddar, MD, Neumóloga et Cooper University Health Care. “Pueden dejar de respirar durante 10 segundos o más. En casos extremos, una persona puede dejar de respirar hasta por un minuto”.

Cuando una persona deja de respirar, incluso momentáneamente, el cerebro se despierta ligeramente a una etapa más ligera del sueño, evitando el sueño más profundo y reparador. Esta interrupción en la respiración puede ser seguida por un fuerte resoplido, asfixia o jadeo que puede despertar a la persona. Estos micro despertares repetidos los dejan sintiéndose cansados y aturdidos al día siguiente.

Las personas que experimentan AOS también suelen tener varios de los siguientes síntomas:

  • Somnolencia diurnalexcesiva
  • Dificultad para concentrarse
  • Dolores de cabeza en la mañana
  • Dolor de garganta al despertar

Cuándo es el momento de buscar ayuda

El tratamiento para la AOS generalmente incluye el uso de un dispositivo CPAP (presión de aire positiva continua), que consiste en un soplador conectado a un tubo y una máscara que sopla aire para mantener una presión constante en las vías respiratorias. Esta presión constante evita que las vías respiratorias colapsen, lo que apoya la respiración normal.

El CPAP es altamente efectivo para la mayoría de las personas, pero puede requerir un período de ajuste. Las máscaras cubren la nariz y, a veces, la boca y pueden sentirse incómodas. Hay varias opciones de máscaras disponibles, y los proveedores de atención médica pueden trabajar con los pacientes para encontrar el diseño que sea más cómodo.

Los casos más graves se pueden tratar con cirugía que ensancha la abertura de las vías respiratorias mediante la eliminación del tejido cercano.

No ignores los ronquidos

“Es fácil descartar los ronquidos como un resultado inevitable del envejecimiento o una condición inevitable basada en la fisiología”, dijo el Dr. Kiliddar. “Pero, si bien los ronquidos aumentan a medida que envejecemos y empeoran por el aumento de peso, pueden provocar complicaciones graves de salud si no se tratan”.

Si nota ronquidos o los síntomas de apnea obstructiva del sueño en usted o en su pareja, hable con su proveedor de atención médica. Dependiendo de la gravedad de la afección, su proveedor puede ordenar un estudio del sueño para diagnosticar y determinar el mejor curso de tratamiento.

“En Cooper, ofrecemos atención integral para diagnosticar y tratar la apnea del sueño“, dijo el Dr. Kiliddar. “Nuestro Centro del Sueño de última generación en Voorhees proporciona información detallada y precisa que nos permite personalizar un plan de tratamiento para satisfacer las necesidades específicas de cada paciente”.

Lo más importante que puede hacer es buscar tratamiento de inmediato. Obtener ayuda para los ronquidos y la apnea del sueño puede mejorar su salud y conducir a una mejor noche de sueño para usted y su pareja.

Para hablar con un especialista del sueño sobre los ronquidos y la apnea del sueño, llame al 800.8.COOPER (800.826.6737) o utilice nuestro formulario de solicitud de cita en línea para hacer una cita.


  1. Carmen Sosa

    I’ve been without my C-pad now for several months because is on recall. It doesn’t work. I’ve contacted my pulmonary doctor also, My Aetna Insurance company. No one seems to be able to help. I am so surprised that Cooperhealth put this article out.

  2. Teresita

    My doctor ordered a sleep study for me but my insurance doesn’t cover the sleep study kit.They told me if it is done in the facility it might be free or I will just pay the deducticle.How do you do it? Do I have to stay overnight for sleep study or do I have to take something to fall asleep?

  3. Amerla Casal

    It’s a fact. I OSA. . I have severe apnea according to my sleep Study. Lately, my condition improved according to my sleep study last year. i was prescribed 10mm pressure. i am still experiencing very dry mouth and throat when I wake up. I was been using CPAP since 2010. i seek for surgery past years at cooper.
    it was not materialize due to some reasons. sooner i would like my surgery done. thank you for this opportunity, to send me this email and to give comment.

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