Different people snore for different reasons because narrowing occurs in different ways. It can be in the nose, mouth, or throat.
- On the lateral side (the wall of the nose closer to the cheeks) of each passage, there are three nasal turbinates, which are long, cylindrical structures. They lie roughly parallel to the floor of the nose. If the blood vessels in the turbinates increase in size, the turbinate as a whole swells, and the flow of air decreases.
- The soft palate is a muscular extension of the bony roof of the mouth (hard palate). It is shaped like a sheet attached at three sides and hangs freely in the back of the mouth. If it is too long or floppy, it can vibrate and cause snoring.
- The uvula is a small extension at the back of the soft palate. It assists in the function of the soft palate. An abnormally long or thick uvula also can contribute to snoring.
- The tonsils are designed to detect and fight infections. Often, the tonsils do not return to their normal size after the infection is gone. They remain enlarged (hypertrophied) and can narrow the airway, causing snoring.
- The base of the tongue is farthest back in the mouth. The tongue is a large muscle that is important for directing food while chewing and swallowing. If the back of the tongue is large or if the tongue is able to slip backwards, it can narrow the space through which air flows in the pharynx, which can lead to vibrations and snoring.