What Causes Snoring?

What causes snoring?
Snoring can be a part of the aging process as muscle tone begins to deteriorate.

The disturbing noise associated with snoring can usually be attributed to a restriction in the free flow of air as it passes through the airway at the back of the mouth and nose. The vibrations set up by the movement of air through the restricted airway is what causes snoring. Snoring can frequently cause restless nights for the sleeper and be even more distressing for the snorer’s partner.

It is common for a person who snores to have poor muscle tone in the soft palate so that when the person goes to sleep and the muscles relax, the palate, and sometimes the tongue, falls back towards the throat restricting the airway.

These muscles in the palate can also become relaxed from drinking alcohol, or taking tranquilizers or antihistamines which will lead to snoring when the person falls into a deep sleep.

What causes snoring in children may be different to adults. Children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids or with blocked nasal passages may tend to snore.

Other Causes Of Snoring

  • Excessive weight gain can be a cause of snoring, especially if there are fat deposits present in the neck. The excess fat in the throat will restrict the breathing and can lead to snoring.
  • A long uvula–the triangular tissue that hangs down from the back of the roof of the mouth–can lead to chronic cough, throat irritation and snoring. The uvula can be shortened through surgery which is effective in reducing snoring and is often performed on sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea who have difficulty adjusting to using a continuous positive airway pressure machine. This surgery can also be performed in children who snore and is often combined with removal of tonsils and adenoids if they are enlarged.
  • Any obstruction to the nasal passages due to a cold, allergy or blocked nose requires the sufferer to make added effort in pulling air through the nose. This can often lead to snoring due to a partial vacuum forming in the throat, which in turn pulls together the soft tissues of the throat and becomes yet one more cause of snoring. Hay fever and sinus infection can also lead to snoring, however, snoring from these causes is usually temporary.
  • In adults, another cause of snoring can be nasal polyps. These are growths that develop in the mucous membrane of the nose and are more likely to occur in asthma or rhinitis sufferers. The polyps usually develop over a period of many months, or sometimes years, and of course lead to a narrowing of the nasal passage which can lead to snoring. Nasal polyps can be removed surgically, often under local anesthetic.
  • A deviated septum can be a cause of snoring. The septum is the skin and cartilage that separates the two nostrils. Because it is hidden within the nasal cavity most people would not be aware that they had a deviated septum except for the snoring. However, the deviation–or curve–in the septum makes it difficult to pull air through the nose causing snoring as the air moves through the nostrils.

A deviated septum can occur at birth or through having the nose broken. Snoring from a deviated septum can sometimes be reduced or eliminated by using nasal strips which are designed to hold the nostrils open during sleep.

Nasal strips can be quite effective in this instance, however, if they do not reduce the snoring surgery may be the only option.

So, why do people snore? The list of culprits is quite extensive and this page only lists a few of them. Check out other pages on this site for more information on what causes snoring and how to reduce or eliminate snoring completely.

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