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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).

Recommended Related to Sleep Apnea

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common and serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops for 10 seconds or more during sleep. The disorder results in decreased oxygen in the blood and can briefly awaken sleepers throughout the night. Sleep apnea has many different possible causes. In adults, the most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity, which is associated with soft tissue of the mouth and throat. During sleep, when throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed,...

Read the Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea article > >

  • 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 25, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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