Snoring is a noise produced when someone breathes during sleep which in turn causes vibration of the soft palate and uvula (that thing that dangles down the  back of the throat).

All snorers have an incomplete obstruction (a block) of the upper airway. Many regular snorers have complete episodes of upper airway obstruction where the airway is completely blocked for a short time – usually a few seconds. This silence is then usually followed by snorts and gasps as they fight to take a breath. When someone snores so loudly that it disturbs others, obstructive sleep apneoa is commonly present.

Primary Snoring, also known as simple snoring, or snoring without sleep apnoea, is characterised by loud upper airway breathing sounds during sleep.  Usually in these cases the complaint of snoring is by the partner or an observer rather than the patient and there is usually no evidence of insomnia or excessive sleepiness due to the snoring. In the case of simple, or primary snoring, simple devices and sprays can be tried as advertised here.

Obstructive Sleep Apneoa

Obstructive Sleep Apneoa Syndrome is characterized by repeated episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep, often associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation. The upper airway can be obstructed by blocked nasal (nose) passages, large tonsils or a large tongue and usually includes the airway muscles relaxing and collapsing when asleep. Sometimes the structure of the jaw can be a factor.

The symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness and reports of obstructed breathing during sleep. Other symptoms suggestive of sleep apnoea include very loud snoring, a dry mouth upon waking, morning headaches, daytime tiredness, unrefreshing sleep, irritability, change in personality, high blood pressure, being overweight, difficulty concentrating, snorting, gasping or choking in the night and restless sleep. If there is any doubt, you should be assessed by your doctor or a specialist such as Mr Frosh for sleep apnoea, because sleep apnoea is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention.

Undiagnosed and untreated obstructive sleep apneoa can lead to include heart attacks, strokes, impotence, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and heart disease. Obstructive sleep apnea also causes daytime sleepiness that can result in accidents and problems at work and in relationships.  The severity of the symptoms may be mild, moderate or severe.

More information is available here.