What are the causes of snoring?

Snoring: Diagram of the Mouth | Cleveland Clinic

Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed (blocked). Air flow can be blocked by several different factors, including the following:

  • Long soft palate and/or uvula
  • A long soft palate (roof of the mouth) or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in the back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat, partially blocking the airway. When one breathes, these structures vibrate and bump against one another and a snoring sound is produced
  • Obstructed nasal airways
  • People who have partially blocked nasal passages have to make an extra effort to transfer air through them. This can pull together or collapse the soft and dangling tissue, resulting in snoring. Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Defects of the nose, such as a deviated septum (the wall that separates one nostril from the other) or nasal polyps (inflammatory growths) can also cause obstruction
  • Poor muscle tone in throat and tongue
  • Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the lower airway.
  • Bulky throat tissue
  • In children, large tonsils and adenoids are often a source of bulky tissue in the throat and the resultant snoring. However, in adults, being overweight is the more common cause of bulky throat tissue, and can result in snoring

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/25/2014.


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