Nose Snoring vs. Mouth Snoring

Did you know that the average sound of a snore ranges between 50 and 80 decibels — roughly as loud as normal conversation (on the low end) to the drone of a vacuum cleaner (on the high end)? 

However, if you or your sleep partner are really unlucky, a snore can sound as cacophonous as a low-flying airplane. It’s true — a British grandmother was diagnosed several years ago with snoring at 111.6 decibels, which is not great news for her husband … or anyone within earshot.

The good news is that the pitch of your snore doesn’t necessarily correlate with the severity of your condition. Nose snoring vs mouth snoring vs. tongue snoring vs. throat snoring. All four types of snoring can rattle some serious windows.

But there are some major differences between the four types of snoring and how to treat them, including the fact that one type of snoring is worse than the rest.

Though the sound of snoring is always generated from vibrations of the soft palate (at the back of your throat), other areas will impact the snoring by causing more narrowing, which means more resistance to air flow, which means more flutter – and more snoring.

Nose  Blockage

Nose snoring is caused by a deviated septum or another obstruction in your nose blocking your airway. New pets could also be a culprit. Pet and dust allergies, colds, chronic nasal congestion and medications can also lead to nose snoring.

As you breathe in at night through your narrowed nasal passage, the soft tissues and the mucosal wall surface vibrates and makes sounds. Your snoring may sound soft and more nasally, like a whistle, or on the loud side, like a grunt or rumble.

Doctors often prescribe nasal steroids to reduce the swelling and congestion — and potentially the snoring. However, this treatment doesn’t always stop the snoring.

How to know if you’re a nose snorer:

  • Your nasal breathing is impaired when you’re awake
  • Your snoring sounds like a whistle or grunting
  • You wake up with dry mouth, headaches and bad breath

Treatment of nose snoring can vary depending on the cause.

If you have a deviated septum, surgery is likely your best bet. If you have allergies, try keeping your home free from dust and dander, quitting smoking, using nasal strips or moisturizing sprays, taking antihistamines and using a room humidifier are all good things to try in order to clear your congestion and open up your nasal airway.

Mouth Snoring

Mouth snoring happens when you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose when you sleep — usually due to a blocked nasal passage, enlarged tonsils or weak palatal tissue.

Sometimes a former nose snorer can turn into a mouth snorer if their nose becomes blocked. While this seems like it shouldn’t be an issue, air should ideally be filtered through the nose to avoid viruses and other bacteria from entering the body.

How to know if you’re a mouth snorer:

  • Your nasal breathing is impaired when you’re awake
  • Your snoring sounds like a whistle or grunting
  • You wake up with dry mouth, headaches and bad breath

To treat this type of snoring, you can use tape that is designed to keep your mouth shut, or mouth guards that help do the same.

Additionally, you can adjust your sleeping position. Try sewing a tennis ball in the back of your shirt to encourage you to avoid sleeping on your back. Reducing nasal congestion with breathing strips can help, too.

Tongue Snoring

Tongue snoring occurs when the tongue gets too relaxed and blocks the airway to the lungs, most particularly when sleeping on your back.

You could also become a tongue snorer if you have a low, thick soft palate, are overweight with extra thickness around your throat, or drink alcohol and use sleep medication.

Tongue snoring typically consists of inconsistent, high-pitched sounds.

How to know if you’re a mouth snorer:

  • You only snore with an open mouth
  • Your snoring is more guttural
  • You sleep on your back or side

Some ways to work on your tongue snoring include using an oral appliance/mouthguard that moves your jaw (and tongue) forward, and anti-snoring pillows and backpacks that can stop you from turning to your back. You can also try raising the head of the bed a few inches to improve your sleep position.

Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your odds of tongue snoring, too.

Throat Snoring

Throat snoring can be the loudest — and the worst of all. It’s caused by sleep apnea, which means you stop breathing several times during the night, followed by periods of loud snoring and gasping for air.

This condition happens when the muscles and soft tissue in the throat are too relaxed, leading to throat blockage and lack of oxygen to the lungs. Throat snoring appears in every sleeping position, and the snoring follows no pattern.

Sleep apnea has been linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.

If you have this condition, you likely are unaware that you stop breathing. You simply wake up feeling unrested and moody. Or you wake up several times during the night due to lack of oxygen. Because of this, your heart races and secretes a protein that tells the body to get rid of sodium and water, hence signaling you to use the restroom.

How to know if you’re a throat snorer:

Throat snoring needs medical attention from an otolaryngologist such as Dr. Marc Kayem, who has 25 years of experience treating sinus and snoring issues. He can help you come up with a treatment plan right away — and the answer doesn’t always have to be CPAP!

Treatments include: