The Soft Palate & Uvulas Affect on Snoring

The soft palate is a flap of tissue found at the back of the mouth and is used in swallowing and breathing. If it is too long or floppy the soft palate can vibrate during sleep and cause you to snore loudly. When asleep on your back, gravity can affect the soft palate, making it fall down slightly and create and obstruction in your airway, narrowing it, and thus producing turbulence. During the REM stage of sleep, our brain signals our muscles (excluding the breathing muscles) to relax, this might let the palate, tongue and throat to collapse, making the upper airway smaller and allowing snoring.

The uvula is found in the middle of our soft palate and looks like a small grape, it induces the gag reflex to expel unwanted stomach contents. When you breath in through your nose your oft palate will open the nasal airway to allow air into the lungs, when swallowing the soft palate moves backwards to close the nasal passage allowing food and liquid into the oesophagus into of the back of the nose, this process is aided by the uvula. The uvula is a common contributor to snoring if elongated or swollen, increasing the probability of turbulence in the airways. Sleeping on your back can exaggerate the size of your uvula, and induce snoring. Often removal of part or all of the uvula is considered as treatment for some snoring conditions, but not for those whose language uses guttural sounds like Hebrew or Farsi, as it is used in the production of many words’ sounds.

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