The Causes Of Snoring
Modern research reveals snoring to often have more than one cause. These include the many factors that lead to nasal blockage such as nasal allergy or deformities of the nasal septum (the cartilage partition between the two sides of the nose) and other internal nasal structures. This nasal blockage can contribute to poor nasal airflow into the lungs and can in turn set the soft tissues of the palate (roof of the mouth) and throat vibrating. These vibrations cause the loud fluttering noise of snoring.
Other factors which can influence the snoring condition are obesity; lack of fitness or aging and associated loss of general muscle tone, congestion of the throat due to the reflux of stomach acid (heartburn); and the effects of alcohol or smoking.
Congestion of the throat tissues leads to swelling of fluids within the tissues. This causes loss of muscle tone and generally makes the lining tissues of the airways flop. Where nasal congestion causes faulty or turbulent airflow through the airway, then the resonance of these floppy tissues contributes to the noise known as snoring.
Correction of snoring may not only require surgical intervention, but will probably also need cessation of smoking, minimised alcohol consumption, control of gastric acid reflux where neccessary and weight control.
The Anatomy of the Upper Airway Passages
The complex anatomical structure of the upper airway passages is due to the close association of the air, food and fluid passages. We not only breathe through our mouth and nose, but we also eat and drink through our mouth. The food passages of the mouth, throat and oesophagus leading to the stomach are separated from the airway by the soft palate and epiglottis and associated structures of the larynx or voicebox. This normally prevents food or fluid passing into the air passages and lungs. Occasional strong coughing fits are reminders that this is not always the case!
The nasal air passages serve to moisten the air intake and also provide the olfactory, or smell sense. Alternating congestion of the nasal passages helps channel the air intake between the two lungs.
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