Difference Wiki

Stridor vs. Stertor: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on March 28, 2024
Stridor is a high-pitched, wheezing sound caused by disrupted airflow, typically during inhalation, while stertor is a low-pitched, snoring sound, often noted during exhalation and caused by partial airway obstruction.

Key Differences

Stridor is characterized by a high-pitched, wheezing sound resulting from turbulent airflow, typically originating in the upper airway or voice box. Stertor, in contrast, is a low-pitched, snoring or rattling sound, generally arising from vibrations in the throat or back of the nose due to partial obstruction.
Stridor often indicates a potential medical emergency, signaling a significant obstruction or narrowing in the upper airway, demanding immediate attention. Stertor, while it may indicate an underlying condition like sleep apnea or obesity, is usually less immediately critical but still warrants medical evaluation.
Stridor is commonly observed in children with conditions like croup or foreign object inhalation. Stertor is more frequent in adults, often associated with conditions affecting the throat's soft tissues, like sleep apnea, or structural abnormalities.
Diagnosing stridor involves identifying the cause of airway obstruction, often requiring imaging or endoscopy. Stertor's diagnosis may include sleep studies or imaging to assess the pharyngeal structures and identify the obstruction source.
Treatment for stridor may involve procedures to remove the obstruction or expand the airway, addressing the immediate threat to breathing. Stertor management focuses on the underlying cause, which may include weight management, CPAP for sleep apnea, or surgery for anatomical corrections.

Comparison Chart

Sound Pitch

High-pitched, wheezing.
Low-pitched, snoring.

Typical Origin

Upper airway or voice box.
Throat or back of the nose.

Clinical Urgency

Often indicates a medical emergency.
Less immediately critical.

Common in Age Group

More common in children.
More common in adults.

Diagnostic Approach

Imaging or endoscopy.
Sleep studies, imaging.

Treatment Focus

Removing obstruction, airway expansion.
Addressing underlying cause, possibly CPAP or surgery.

Stridor and Stertor Definitions


Indicates narrowed airway, often requiring immediate medical attention.
The emergency team responded promptly to the patient's stridor.


A low-pitched, snoring sound caused by vibrations in the throat or nasal passages.
The patient's stertor was noticeable, suggesting possible obstructive sleep apnea.


Often associated with conditions like laryngeal inflammation or foreign body inhalation.
After inhaling a small toy, the toddler developed a pronounced stridor.


Treatment focuses on managing the underlying condition, such as CPAP for sleep apnea.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) effectively reduced the patient's stertor and improved sleep quality.


Commonly heard during inhalation, signifying upper respiratory obstruction.
The doctor noted the stridor intensified when the patient inhaled deeply.


Diagnosis may involve sleep studies or imaging of pharyngeal structures.
The sleep specialist used a study to analyze the patient's stertor and sleep patterns.


Diagnostic approach may involve endoscopy to visualize the airway obstruction.
The ENT specialist recommended an urgent endoscopy to investigate the cause of the patient's stridor.


Commonly observed in adults with obesity or structural abnormalities in the throat.
The man's stertor worsened with weight gain, prompting a sleep study referral.


A high-pitched, wheezing sound due to turbulent airflow in the upper airway.
The child's stridor was evident, indicating a possible case of croup.


Often associated with conditions causing partial airway obstruction during sleep.
Stertor was a key symptom in diagnosing the patient's enlarged tonsils.


A harsh, shrill, grating, or creaking sound.


A heavy snoring sound in respiration.


(Medicine) A harsh, high-pitched sound in inhalation or exhalation.


The act of snoring, especially heavy snoring.


A harsh, shrill, unpleasant noise.


A snoring sound, as for example even during wakefulness in infants with breathing difficulties.
Stertorous respirations


(medicine) A high-pitched sound heard on inspiration resulting from turbulent air flow in the upper airway usually indicative of serious airway obstruction.


The act of snoring or producing a snoring sound


A harsh, shrill, or creaking noise.


A whistling sound when breathing (usually heard on inspiration); indicates obstruction of the trachea or larynx


What is stridor?

Stridor is a high-pitched, wheezing sound caused by disrupted airflow.

Can children experience stridor?

Yes, children can experience stridor, often due to croup, foreign object inhalation, or congenital abnormalities.

When does stridor occur?

It typically occurs during inhalation but can also happen during exhalation in severe cases.

What treatments are available for stridor?

Treatment depends on the cause but may include medication, surgery, or removal of obstructions.

What causes stridor?

It's often caused by blockages in the larynx (voice box) or trachea (windpipe).

How is stridor diagnosed?

Diagnosis typically involves physical examination, imaging tests, and sometimes endoscopy.

Can stridor go away on its own?

Mild cases, especially in children, may resolve on their own, but persistent or severe stridor requires medical attention.

Is stridor a sign of a serious condition?

Yes, it can indicate a potentially life-threatening obstruction in the airway.

Can stertor occur during sleep?

Yes, it's commonly associated with sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Is stertor dangerous?

While often less immediately dangerous than stridor, stertor can indicate underlying health issues needing attention.

How is stertor treated?

Treatment may involve addressing the underlying cause, such as weight management, CPAP for sleep apnea, or surgery for anatomical obstructions.

Is stertor the same as snoring?

Stertor is similar to snoring but involves deeper, more congested sounds due to more significant obstruction.

Is stridor painful?

Stridor itself isn't painful, but the underlying condition causing it may cause discomfort.

What is stertor?

Stertor is a low-pitched snoring or snorting sound caused by partial obstruction of the upper airway.

What causes stertor?

Causes include obesity, sleep apnea, nasal obstructions, and abnormalities in the throat or soft palate.

Is stertor common in children?

It's less common than in adults but can occur in children with enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

Can stertor affect quality of life?

Yes, it can disrupt sleep and lead to daytime fatigue and other health issues.

Can stridor affect breathing?

Yes, severe stridor can significantly affect breathing and may require emergency treatment.

Can allergies cause stertor?

Yes, severe nasal allergies can contribute to stertor by causing airway obstructions.

What is the difference between stridor and stertor?

Stridor is a high-pitched sound primarily during inhalation, indicating a blockage in the lower airway, while stertor is a lower-pitched, snore-like sound due to obstructions in the upper airway.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons