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Snoring  is an objectionable  sound   that is generated  from vibration of the upper airway when it is partially obstructed during sleep. It is a common disorder that is usually brought to the attention of the sufferer by complaints of his or her bed mate. There is a range of severity,  from harmless to potentially life threatening. The most common reasons for snoring are fatigue, ingestion of alcohol or medications that cause sedation,  or poor positioning.  The medical term for  snoring is “upper airway resistance syndrome” and is part of a spectrum of conditions known  as sleep disordered breathing. Simple snoring is not associated with arousal or awakening. However, when airway obstruction is more severe, repeated awakenings to un-obstruct the airway results in daytime sleepiness from lack of continuous sleep. The most severe form of snoring is associated with cessation of breathing. Collapse of the upper airway causes apnea, a result of  complete obstruction of the airway. This is observed as lack of air movement for at least ten seconds with visible respiratory muscle effort. Frequent apnea can cause low oxygen level in the blood and irregular heart rhythms, some of which can be fatal. The airway obstruction that causes snoring or apnea originates in the throat and nasal passages, which have a low threshold for collapse. A major risk factor for snoring is a large body habitus, obesity or a neck collar size greater than seventeen inches. A common  contributor to upper airway obstruction is nasal obstruction. This could be temporary from a cold virus or more persistent if caused by nasal allergies, chronic sinus infections or nasal polyps.

Nasal allergies contribute to snoring by obligating mouth breathing. One of the most common allergies is to dust mite, where exposure and symptoms of congestion  are most likely to arise while in bed. For mild to moderate snoring, control of dust mites or other indoor allergens such as pet dander can relieve upper airway obstruction and snoring. In patients with obstructive sleep apnea who require nasal airway pressure, nasal blockage from allergies or polyps can prevent adequate treatment of snoring or sleep apnea.

If you suspect allergies ae contributing to snoring, evaluation is indicated. This includes a detailed history and examination with emphasis on the nose  and throat. Additional diagnostic testing may include nasal endoscopy or allergy skin testing. Indoor allergen exposure can be controlled with several effective measures. Medications to decrease nasal swelling can also be effective. In more refractory patients, allergen injection can be use to desesntize to the offending substances.