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Carrington College Blog

How to Know if Snoring is a Sign of a Bigger Problem

November 8, 2016

We all know someone who snores right? If you don’t know someone, then it might be you! We all joke about snorers and how they affect our eight hours, but how do we know if it’s a sign of a bigger problem? We talked with some students in Carrington’s Respiratory Care program to find out more.


Let’s talk stats – how big a problem is snoring?

It’s definitely a big issue that shouldn’t go unchecked. Respiratory Care student Felicia has some amazing statistics.

“It’s huge – approximately 90 million Americans have a snoring issue [2] and approximately one third of those have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. [3]

Obstructive Sleep what…? What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a disorder where the person stops breathing for at least 10 seconds each hour during sleep. It happens because air flowing from to the lungs is blocked because the tongue (or soft tissues of the throat) have collapsed and caused a blockage. When the airway is completely blocked, it’s called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. As you can imagine, stopping your breathing is a big deal, so sleep apnea is a bigger issue than occasional, annoying, snoring! Respiratory Care student Les explains more.

“Apnea means you’re not breathing, usually while you’re sleeping. To diagnose it you really need to go see your doctor. He’s going to suggest a sleep study, and that’s really where you’re going to get your detailed information and learn whether you have that disorder.”

A sleep study usually takes place overnight. You get hooked up to a machine that records your heart rate, blood pressure, brain activity, oxygen levels, eye movement, body movement and more. It doesn’t sound very comfortable, but they can be very informative! The technical term is a polysomnogram. [4]

What health issues can come from not treating Sleep Apnea?

While we may make fun of friends or family who snore, maybe giving them a hard time for keeping us awake, sleep apnea can cause some real serious issues if left untreated, as Felicia explains.

“If you have untreated obstructive sleep apnea, you are four times more likely to have a stroke in addition to being three times more likely to develop heart disease. [5]

So let’s talk about causes…What causes snoring?

If you know a noisy sleeper it might be because of the way they sleep, it could be because they’re super tired or because they’re carrying a little too much weight. Student Jen explains with the help of one of our cool Respiratory Care lab manikins!

“One cause is the position you sleep in – laying flat on your back can definitely cause snoring. Another cause can be sleep deprivation [if you’re super tired you fall into a deep, deep sleep and you might snore. Obesity is a also big cause of snoring. Obesity plays a role because of all the extra weight that’s put on the soft tissues in the throat that cause them to swell and block that airway.”

Are there any things you can try at home?

There are plenty of snoring home remedies out there to help us all get a better night’s sleep. Respiratory Care program student Les talks us through a few of the more common ones you’ll see.

“There are a lot of things people see on TV or online. There’s the mouth guard that you slip into the mouth that pushes the jaw forward. There are chin straps that keep your mouth closed and cause you to breathe through your nose. People have also tried taking tennis balls and putting them in the shirt on their back.”

That last one would certainly stop you sleeping on your back, but home remedies like these might just be putting a band-aid on a bigger problem.

What treatments are available if you do have obstructive sleep apnea?

If you think you, or someone you care about, has sleep apnea, you need to get it checked out by a doctor. As Les mentioned earlier, they will probably recommend you take part in a sleep study. Les also shares a treatment that a doctor may recommend If you are diagnosed with OSA.

“CPAP. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It’s a machine that, constantly when you breathe in, there’s a positive pressure that keeps your airways open, particularly keeping your tongue from dropping into the back of your throat.”

Snoring is a big deal; it’s not just disruptive to those around you, but it can cause some pretty serious health risks. If you have any questions, just make sure to check in with your doctor.


[1] Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rate of students who attended this program can be found at





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