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Is Sleep Apnea the Only Cause of Loud Snoring?

The ribbing about your snoring is becoming more frequent and less playful as those around you complain of a lack of sleep. So, you realize it’s time to get to the bottom of the nighttime issue, and you’re worried about sleep apnea.

Yes, sleep apnea is one of the common culprits behind snoring, but there are plenty of others.

To give you an idea, Dr. Cecil Yeung and Dr. Marcus Hershey here at Houston Sinus Surgery want to spend some time discussing snoring — why it happens, what can cause it, and how we can help.

Behind the noise

The exact cause of snoring is quite simple. There’s something that’s obstructing your airways. As a result, air is forced through small spaces, causing the soft tissues in these areas to vibrate. There are, however, many things that can cause this narrowing.

The many roads to snoring

Most everyone snores from time to time due to temporary reasons, such as nasal congestion due to a cold or allergies. Or, you may have a few drinks with friends and end up snoring due to more relaxed tissues around the back of your mouth.

Temporary issues, such as the ones listed above, should go away once the cause resolves. However, many people have a chronic problem with snoring. In fact 40% of women and 57% of men snore regularly for a number of reasons, such as the following:

Sleep apnea

While the goal of this blog is to focus more on the causes of snoring outside of sleep apnea, it’s still important to know that the condition affects 10-30% of adults in the United States. Sleep apnea occurs when soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse during the night, forcing the sleeper to wake up just enough to clear their airways. The noise comes from a sleeper who’s trying to get air in and, when they finally do, they may make choking or gasping noises.

Deviated septum

Your septum is a piece of cartilage that divides your nostrils into two spaces for air to flow through. Ideally, it would divide your nostrils into equal-sized spaces. If this tissue is offset, however, it creates unequal nostrils — hence the name deviated septum — which can lead to snoring.

Nasal polyps

People can develop benign growths of tissue inside their nasal passageways called nasal polyps. While the growths aren't necessarily dangerous, if they’re big or numerous enough, they can hamper air flow and lead to snoring.


If you’re carrying excess weight, it can reside everywhere, including in the tissues around your throat. People who have obesity are far more at risk for sleep apnea. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, larger-than-normal tissues in your throat could cause habitual snoring throughout the night.

Silent nights

If you suffer from snoring and the issues that go along with it, we can perform a thorough evaluation and design a treatment plant to treat the cause.

For example, if you have nasal polyps, we can try medications to shrink the growths, or we can surgically remove them. Or, if you have a deviated septum, we can perform a septoplasty to create even nostrils. Or, if you have sleep apnea, we can try a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help keep your airways open.

These are just a few of the solutions we can try depending on the cause of your snoring. No matter what’s behind it, we can work with you to find solutions that will allow you — and everyone around you — to sleep better.

For experienced and expert snoring care, call our Houston office at or book an appointment online today.

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