How to Spot OSA Snoring


This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Snoring is a common part sleep for many people, and as annoying as it may be to those who hear it there is nothing harmful about it on its own. In certain cases, though, snoring can indicate the presence Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a potentially serious sleep disorder. How can you tell the difference? Look for these signs to determine if someone’s noisy nighttime breathing warrants a trip to the doctor’s office.


While light sighs during sleep aren’t usually cause for concern, deeper and more audible snorts can be. Louder snores have a greater chance of being associated with OSA.


Many people are occasional snorers, especially if they’re suffering from a cold or congestion—or anything that causes a temporary blockage of the airways. With an underlying condition like OSA, though, a person will snore nearly every night even when he or she is otherwise in good health.

Gasping and Trouble Breathing

Episodes of snoring that are interrupted by gasps, choking sounds, or irregular pauses in breathing may suggest something more serious is afoot. Telltale signs of OSA include snoring sessions that are punctuated by bouts of breathlessness.

Other Symptoms Accompany Snoring

For people with OSA, snoring doesn’t usually occur in a vacuum. Other symptoms of the condition, which is more common in middle-aged and older men, include nocturia (getting up to urinate in during the night), depression, irritability, and sexual dysfunction tied to the lack of restful sleep.

If you suspect your snoring—or a partner’s—is a symptom of sleep apnea, you should consult with a physician to schedule a sleep test and learn about available treatment options.