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What is Snoring?

I’m sure just about everyone is somewhat familiar with snoring. You probably know at least one person who snores. It could be your bed partner, your parents, grandparents, even Uncle Ned or Aunt Sophie who may snore at various sound levels. Some laugh and make jokes about it, but it can be a symptom of a serious disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). And if it is obstructive sleep apnea, then it is no laughing matter, and that individual needs to get evaluated by a sleep specialist.

Snoring is a noise produced when an individual breathes (usually produced when breathing in) during sleep which in turn causes vibration of the soft palate and uvula (that thing that hangs down in the back of the throat). The word “apnea” means the absence of breathing.

All snorers have incomplete obstruction (a block) of the upper airway. Many habitual snorers have complete episodes of upper airway obstruction where the airway is completely blocked for a period of time, usually 10 seconds or longer. This silence is usually followed by snorts and gasps as the individual fights to take a breath. When an individual snores so loudly that it disturbs others, obstructive sleep apnea is almost certain to be present.

There is snoring that is an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea and there is also primary snoring.

Primary Snoring, also known as simple snoring, snoring without sleep apnea, noisy breathing during sleep, benign snoring, rhythmical snoring and continuous snoring is characterized by loud upper airway breathing sounds in sleep without episodes of apnea (cessation of breath).


Snoring can be eliminated or greatly reduced with an oral appliance. By law, a sleep study must be performed first to rule out sleep apnea.