Snoring is often overlooked as a contributor to poor sleep and related health problems. Picture: Thobeka Zazi Ndabula

London - Snoring can be a cause of pain, dry mouth and much annoyance for your significant other who has to live with the noise.

There are different reasons behind different snores so it is vital to find the right treatment.

Have a go at our quiz - and if you say yes to two symptoms in a category, give the suggested remedies a try...



If you close one nostril with one finger and breathe in, the uncovered nostril collapses

You do not have a blocked nose yet it sometimes whistles or hums when you snore

You have a poor sense of smell


Nasal deformity. “This snorer may have a slight anatomical defect,” says Bhik Kotecha, a consultant ENT surgeon who specialises in snoring at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital. It might be a deviated septum - when the cartilage dividing the nostrils is not straight. This causes one nostril to be narrower than the other, which hinders breathing. You can be born with this or you can develop the condition after an injury. “Nasal polyps are common and harmless growths that develop on the lining of the nose,” explains Kotecha. “They obstruct air flow and can also reduce our sense of smell.”


“A minor abnormality can be corrected by sleeping on a particular side,” explains Kotecha. “Additionally those with a nose problem can find snoring improves with a combination of a low-dose steroid spray and a nasal dilator clip, strip or tube that mechanically enlarges the nostril.” In serious cases, surgery is an option.Ä



You have a neck measurement of more than 171Ú2 inches

Snoring is throaty - the classic pig-in-a-trough snorting - and regular with no long silences

You sleep on your back


You are overweight. “Being overweight is the most common reason for snoring,” says Bhik Kotecha, a consultant ENT surgeon who specialises in snoring at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital.

“Excess fat around the neck leads to partial collapse of the airways, affecting breathing.”

A collapsed airway causes the throat to vibrate as air passes into the lungs. “You”ll often get a symphony of noises emanating from all over the upper respiratory tract,” he adds.


“Weight loss, obviously,” says Kotecha. In the meantime, an anti-snore pillow such as the Silentnight Anti-Snore Pillow (£10, may help. “This can help by adjusting the position of the head, propping the head and neck up slightly, preventing compression of the airway and stopping the tongue flopping backwards,” he adds. “Not lying on your back will also help. Some people find it helpful to sew ping-pong balls on to the back of T-shirts because this prevents them rolling over during the night.”



You or someone at home smokes

Nights when you don’t drink lessen or stop your snoring

You enjoy a glass of wine or other tipple most evenings


Alcohol and/or smoking. “Alcohol suppresses muscle activity, which causes the soft palate to relax, the tongue to flop and the airways to collapse,” explains Dr Ian Smith, a consultant physician and director of the Papworth Hospital’s Sleep Centre. “Smoking irritates both the nasal passages and the throat, which can lead to swelling and a narrowing of the airways,” adds Kotecha. “Even passive smoking can have a similar effect.”


Drinking earlier in the evening will reduce snoring if you can’t say no to a tipple. “Nicotine patches help dilate the airways and prevent snoring, which is an added incentive to quit,” adds Dr Smith. Throat sprays may help make the air flow more smoothly. “They can help delay snoring by a few hours, which gives a snorer’s partner a chance to get to sleep before the racket begins,” explains Kotecha.



The snoring is extremely loud - audible through walls - but punctuated by long silences

You feel very tired and even anxious throughout the day

You often wake during the night


Sleep apnoea. “This is a condition that requires immediate attention,” explains Dr Smith. “There are two types: obstructive sleep apnoea, when tissues at the back of the throat collapse almost completely, starving the heart and brain of oxygen, and central sleep apnoea, which is the result of the brain forgetting to tell the body to breathe. Sleep apnoea can trigger high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes.”

Those at risk are the overweight, those with a receding chin or those who drink large quantities of alcohol, or take sleeping pills or tranquillisers.


Visit your GP as a matter of urgency. For mild sleep apnoea, lifestyle changes will be suggested, but moderate to severe sleep apnoea patients will be prescribed a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device.

“This is a mask connected to mains electricity that generates air pressure to keep the airways clear,” explains Kotecha. “Never buy one on the internet as it is crucial each machine is calibrated specifically for you.”




You have a small chin that merges into your neck

You are slim and fit

Your snoring is raspy and throaty - and sounds a bit like Star Wars villain Darth Vader


A weak chin. This causes snoring because the position of the jaw pushes the soft palate towards the back of the throat, narrowing the airway - which triggers snoring.


“A Mandibular Advancement Device can help by bringing the jaw forward, which prevents the airway narrowing,” says Dr Ian Smith, of Papworth Hospital’s Sleep Centre.

“You can buy them online or get a dentist to custom-make one, although I recommend starting cheap and working up to an expensive one if you don’t notice any improvement.”



There is a correlation between when you snore and the time of year

You often have a blocked nose

You own a pet


An allergy. Dr Smith says: “Dust, mites, grass and fur can stimulate the release of a chemical in the body called histamine, which triggers mucus production and congestion.” Because of this, a person’s snoring may disappear for most of the year if they suffer with a seasonal allergy such as hay fever.


“Treat the allergy,” says Dr Smith. “Work out what is causing you to react and reduce your exposure to the allergen.” After this, take a daily antihistamine and a steroidal nasal spray, but only when needed as continual use could damage the lining of the nose. If in doubt, speak to your GP.




“Snoring during pregnancy develops for several reasons,” says Kotecha. “Many women gain weight, which increases the likelihood of snoring, but increased blood flow and oestrogen levels are the main culprits.”

Oestrogen usually protects women from snoring but higher than normal levels can irritate the mucous membranes, triggering rhinitis. It can be more difficult to treat pregnant women because they cannot take a range of drugs, although low-dose nasal steroid spray can be used after the first three months of pregnancy.

“It would not be advised that a woman try to lose weight if she was pregnant unless she was very overweight, so the key treatment is reducing inflammation in the nose,” explains Kotecha. “Steam inhalations and regular saline nasal rinsing is a very effective drug-free method of clearing irritants and soothing inflammation in the nose.”



About ten percent of children snore and the causes are diverse. Children are more prone to catching infections, which block the nasal passages or throat. “Enlarged tonsils or adenoids are the most common causes for childhood snoring,” explains Kotecha. “Sometimes the shape of the skull as the child grows can induce temporary snoring.”

In most cases, snoring will come and go during infancy but for those who snore severely, intervention may be needed. Studies have shown that children who snore tend to suffer with hyperactivity, a lower IQ and sometimes stunted growth. “More often than not, childhood snoring resolves itself,” says Kotecha. “You cannot use mouth inserts because they can affect tooth growth and development. In most cases, severe snoring is resolved by having the tonsils and adenoids removed.” - The Independent