Health Library

 

Causes of Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Topic Overview

Enlarged tissues in the nose, mouth, or throat can block the airway, causing snoring or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The airway can be blocked by:

  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids (the most common cause of sleep apnea in children).
  • A larger-than-normal uvula (the small, finger-shaped piece of tissue that hangs down from the roof of the mouth into the throat). See a picture of the tonsils, adenoids, and uvula.
  • Fat deposits around the neck. These can temporarily block your airway when you lie on your back, especially if you are overweight.
  • A large tongue, which may block your airway when you are lying down.
  • Nasal congestion that is caused by colds or allergies. The tissues in the nose may swell. People who have allergies may develop growths in the nose called nasal polyps, which also may block the nasal passage.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
Current as of June 25, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Additional Resources

First Nurse

  • First Nurse: Talk to one of our nurses 24 hours a day for free health care advice, resources and referrals! Call 515-239-6877 or 800-524-6877.
  • Health Library: Search our online library containing information on health conditions, medications, medical tests, and more.

Symptom Checker

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker