Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Snoring is a sound resulting from turbulent airflow that causes the tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate during sleep. The turbulent air flow is related to a narrowing at some point in the nose, mouth, or throat. Different people who snore may have various reasons for the narrowing of the air spaces leading to snoring.
Any person can snore, and studies estimate that 45% of men and 30% of women snore on a regular basis. People who snore can have any body type, although as a rule, snoring increases when people gain weight. Sleeping position may also affect snoring. Since the tissues of the pharynx are normally soft and floppy, when we lie on our backs, gravity pulls the palate, tonsils, and tongue backward. This often narrows the airway enough to cause turbulence in airflow, tissue vibration, and snoring.
Anatomical variation, the use of medications and alcohol, and underlying medical conditions are all among the various causes of snoring. The normal aging process also leads to relaxation of the throat muscles and can facilitate snoring.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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