May 18, 2023 5 min read

Being told you snore when you’ve been a non-snorer all of your life can come quite as a shock. Many questions spring to mind when you first hear about your new problem, with the main one being, “Why am I snoring all of a sudden?” 


The reality is that our propensity to snore increases with age. Case in point: frequent snoring is found in only 2.4–15% of children but 10–36% of adults [1]. This suggests that it’s not that unusual to start snoring at a later point in your life. 


But most people don’t become a human freight train overnight; the change from sleeping peacefully to annoyingly is gradual. If you, on the other hand, found out you’re snoring all of a sudden, other factors could be at play.

Are You Really a New Snorer?

Before going into the whys and wherefores of your new onset of snoring, it’s important to ask yourself this question. 


While it may sound obvious, snorers usually don’t realize they snore on their own. Instead, it’s a bed partner, roommate, or colleague that sounds the alarm. So, if you’ve recently started living with someone else or have changed your sleep environment in some way, it could be that you’ve been snoring for a while without realizing it. 


Research shows that snoring tends to get progressively worse [2]. What that means is that most people initially snore lightly and from time to time, with the frequency and severity of their snore problem increasing as time goes on. But in rare cases, snoring can occur suddenly and signal an underlying problem.

What Causes Someone to Snore Suddenly?

Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep. It happens when the upper airways become obstructed due to inflammation, excess weight, relaxed airway muscles, or certain anatomical problems. In most cases, snoring is a transient problem that resolves on its own. In other cases, it can be chronic and even progress to sleep apnea, which is a serious sleep disorder. 


Besides that, snoring can come on suddenly or get progressively worse over months or years. When snoring happens suddenly, it is usually due to the following reasons: 

1. Allergies or a viral infection

Studies show that people with allergic and non-allergic rhinitis (i.e. nasal congestion) are quite prone to snoring [3,4]. That’s because a congested upper airway makes it difficult for air to flow freely. This then leads to turbulent airflow and vibration of soft tissues that produce loud snoring. 


If you’ve recently developed an allergy to dust mites, pollen, or an unknown allergen or have caught a bug, then this could explain your sudden case of snoring. 

2. A recent change in habits

Being sleep-deprived, drinking alcohol before bedtime, taking sedatives, and becoming a smoker are all things that can lead to new-onset snoring [5]. Sleep deprivation as well as taking alcohol or sedatives can all cause your upper airway muscles to relax more than normal, blocking airflow. Smoking irritates the upper airways, causing inflammation and mucus production that can restrict airflow.

If you’ve also moved to a home area with greater air pollution, this too could have an effect on the state of your airways. 

3. Hormonal and physical changes 

Have you gained a lot of weight recently? Are you expecting a baby or are going through menopause? The physical and hormonal changes caused by all of the above can lead to excess tissue forming around the upper airways, thus obstructing airflow [6]. They can also cause the muscles responsible for keeping the airways open to weaken.


Studies also show that hypothyroidism is also strongly correlated with frequent snoring [7]. Hypothyroidism often leads to weight gain that puts you at other health risks, including snoring. Suffering a recent injury in the face and neck region can also lead to snoring. 

The Dangers of Unchecked Snoring

Snoring is fairly common and a frequent punchline. But despite all that, snoring is far from being normal and definitely no laughing matter. Snoring is a sign that you’re having trouble breathing normally as you sleep. That’s why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends visiting a board-certified sleep physician if your snoring is severe and frequent [8]. 


The main reason you should be concerned about snoring is that it can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a serious sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing and fragmented sleep. Over time, OSA can increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a motor vehicle accident [9]. The fragmented sleep due to OSA can also damage brain and metabolic health, increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes, depression, neurodegenerative disease, and more [9]. 


But even if your snoring is not due to OSA, there’s evidence it could progress to this sleep disorder. Known as heavy snorer's disease, this problem is believed to get worse partly because snoring irritates the nerves in the throat that maintain normal muscle tone [11]. 

How to Treat Sudden Snoring 

To treat sudden snoring, you first need to find what has caused it. If you can think of any recent changes that might have contributed to your problem, then that’s a good place to start. 


Snoring caused by a congested nose can be treated with over-the-counter medication, an air purifier, and by removing an allergen, for example. If your snoring may be due to recent weight gain, it may be time to pay attention to your diet and activity levels.

Otherwise, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor to find the underlying culprit. This is especially important if your snoring is accompanied by daytime fatigue, a morning headache, trouble focusing, and weight gain. All these symptoms point to OSA, which needs to be treated with a device that keeps the airways open by blowing air into the airways.  


Primary snoring can also be treated by something as simple as switching to a side-sleeping position [11]. Another snoring treatment is oral appliances like the  Good Morning Snore Solution. This simple and convenient device works by keeping your tongue from falling back into your throat as you sleep, thus freeing your upper airways. 


References:

  1. Park JG. Encyclopedia of Sleep. 2013, Pages 265-268.https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-378610-4.00319-3.

  1. Berger G, Berger R, Oksenberg A. Progression of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea: the role of increasing weight and time [published correction appears in Eur Respir J. 2009 Apr;33(4):947].Eur Respir J. 2009;33(2):338-345.doi:10.1183/09031936.00075408

  1. Kalpaklioğlu AF, Kavut AB, Ekici M. Allergic and nonallergic rhinitis: the threat for obstructive sleep apnea.Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2009;103(1):20-25.doi:10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60138-X

  1. Gül A, Cınar F, Evren C, Uğur MB, Sarıkaya S. Basit horlama ve obstrüktif uyku apnesi sendromu hastalarında alerjik rinit prevelansı [The prevalence of allergic rhinitis in patients with simple snoring and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome].Kulak Burun Bogaz Ihtis Derg. 2011;21(2):70-75. doi:10.5606/kbbihtisas.2011.002

  1. Bloom JW, Kaltenborn WT, Quan SF. Risk factors in a general population for snoring. Importance of cigarette smoking and obesity.Chest. 1988;93(4):678-683.doi:10.1378/chest.93.4.678

  1. Loube DI, Poceta JS, Morales MC, Peacock MD, Mitler MM. Self-reported snoring in pregnancy. Association with fetal outcome.Chest. 1996;109(4):885-889.doi:10.1378/chest.109.4.885

  1. Misiolek M, Marek B, Namyslowski G, et al. Sleep apnea syndrome and snoring in patients with hypothyroidism with relation to overweight.J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007;58 Suppl 1:77-85.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17443029/

  1. Stop Snoring: sleep disorders, tests and treatments related to snoring. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Published February 12, 2014.https://sleepeducation.org/stop-snoring-sleep-disorders-tests-treatments-related-snoring/

  1. Al Lawati NM, Patel SR, Ayas NT. Epidemiology, risk factors, and consequences of obstructive sleep apnea and short sleep duration.Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2009;51(4):285-293.doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2008.08.001

  1. Friberg D. Heavy snorer's disease: a progressive local neuropathy. Acta Otolaryngol. 1999;119(8):925-933.doi:10.1080/00016489950180306

  1. Danoff-Burg S, Rus HM, Weaver MA, Raymann RJEM. Sleeping in an Inclined Position to Reduce Snoring and Improve Sleep: In-home Product Intervention Study.JMIR Form Res. 2022;6(4):e30102. Published 2022 Apr 6.doi:10.2196/30102



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