Conditions & Treatments

Snoring

Snoring is the sound that occurs during sleep when flow of air is obstructed in the area where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula.

Snoring

What is snoring?

Snoring is the sound that occurs during sleep when flow of air is obstructed in the area where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring noises occur when these structures vibrate against each other during breathing.

It is estimated that 45% of all adults snore occasionally, and 25% habitually snore. Snoring is more common in males and people who are overweight, and worsens with age.

Snoring is obstructed breathing. In addition to disturbed sleep patterns and sleep deprivation, other serious health problems may result. Snoring may also be a symptom of other medical conditions.

What causes snoring?

Snoring may be caused by many factors, including:

  • Poor muscle tone

  • Excessively bulky throat tissue

  • Long soft palate

  • Long uvula

  • Stuffed or blocked nasal passages

  • Deformities of the nose

  • Deformities of the nasal septum

Can snoring be prevented?

Mild or occasional snoring may be helped by:

  • A┬áhealthy lifestyle that includes exercise and proper diet

  • Losing weight

  • Avoiding tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime

  • Avoiding alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime

  • Avoiding heavy meals at least 3 hours before bedtime

  • Establishing regular sleeping patterns

  • Sleeping on your side

  • Tilting the head of the bed up about 4 inches

Heavy or chronic snoring may require medical care.

Treatment for snoring

Specific treatment for snoring will be determined by your health care provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disorder

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disorder

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include a nasal mask that provides continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), or surgery.

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Digestive Healthcare Center

  • Weight Center
    The Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center is a fully integrated center within the Digestive Healthcare Center that supports the spectrum of needs for people of all ages seeking help with obesity and weight loss.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children

  • Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine
    The Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at MassGeneral Hospital for Children is a well-established clinical, training and research program. The group provides multidisciplinary comprehensive consultation, diagnostic and management services for a wide array of pulmonary conditions.
  • Pediatric Sleep Disorders Program
    Sleep problems, including problems falling asleep, staying asleep, disrupted sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness are common in children. The Sleep Disorders Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment for children with disorders of sleep.
  • Psychology Assessment Center
    The pediatric neuropsychology specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Psychology Assessment Center provide neuropsychological assessments to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological, medical, genetic and developmental disorders.
Department of Neurology

  • Sleep Division
    The Division of Sleep Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital provides sophisticated diagnostic testing and comprehensive treatment options for people struggling with any kind of sleep problem.
General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

  • Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program
    The Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program at Massachusetts General Hospital offers a full spectrum of safe and effective surgical procedures for obesity, weight disorders and metabolic disease.
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

  • Spaulding Sleep Center
    The Spaulding Sleep Center uses the latest technology to diagnose and treat sleep disorders, with a focus on patients with cardiac and/or pulmonary disease.

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Departments and Centers at Mass General have a reputation for excellence in patient care. View a list of all departments.