Noisy Breathing in Adults
Noisy breathing in adults is a common condition, usually caused by a blockage in the air passages.
What is going on in the body?
Noisy breathing generally occurs when a blockage somewhere in the breathing passages produces abnormal airflow. The blockage can be anywhere from the mouth to deep inside the lungs. Noisy breathing may be harmless or a life-threatening condition.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
There are many causes of noisy breathing in adults, including:
anatomic defects or conditions, such as a deviated nasal septum, which divides the two nostrils unequally
respiratory infections, such as influenza or flu, acute bronchitis, pneumonia, and the common cold
asthma, a condition that results in reversible narrowing of the airways
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis
smoking, which can cause COPD, a hoarse voice, and a "smoker's cough"
gastroesophageal reflux disease, which occurs when stomach contents go backward. Stomach acid may flow backward all the way up into the throat and mouth and affect breathing.
sleep apnea, a condition that results in a blockage of the airway in the throat during sleep. This is also a common cause of snoring.
lung cancer or throat cancer, which can partially or fully block the airways
nervous system problems or damage, which may affect the ability to breathe. An example is paralysis of a vocal cord from a stroke, or brain attack.
heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure, which can cause an accumulation of fluid in the lungs
other lung conditions, such as inflammation of the lungs from autoimmune disorders. These are conditions in which a person's immune system attacks his or her own body.
Other causes are also possible.