Snoring is the physical obstruction of air through the mouth and nose. This causes the sounds of snoring as the walls of the throat vibrate during breathing.
Snoring has a tendency to worsen with age, and is mostly considered a nuisance for the bed partner of the snorer. However, if you are a habitual snorer it may also disrupt your normal sleep patterns, which can make you feel tired even after a night of seemingly quality rest.
Our doctor performs medical procedures for patients in our region to reduce or eliminate snoring. If you’re concerned about getting a good night’s sleep, you should schedule an appointment with our doctor to see what types of procedures, treatments or lifestyle changes we can recommend.
What causes snoring?
There are many causes of snoring which include:
- Having a thick, low soft palate; large tonsils and/or adenoids; an elongated uvula (soft palate); throat weakness; and/or mispositioned jaw that causes muscle tension. These can obstruct the airflow and increase vibration.
- Sinus infections during allergy season; chronic nasal congestion; a deviated septum; or nasal polyps.
- Being overweight can cause bulky throat tissue to gather in and around your throat and contribute to a narrowing of your airway.
- Alcohol consumption, drugs, sleeping pills and aging can relax your throat muscles and inhibit your natural ability to defend against airway obstruction.
- Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which your airway is obstructed by your throat tissues, which prevents you from breathing. This occurs in brief periods during the night and is a serious condition that requires medical treatment.
- Males are reported to snore more than females.
- Sleeping on your back may result in your tongue dropping to the back of your mouth and may cause snoring
Does snoring have any health risks?
Frequent snorers may be at risk for difficulty concentrating, restless sleep, a sore throat, irregular heartbeats, excessive daytime sleepiness, relationship issues, as well as motor vehicle accidents.
If you are a habitual snorer, you may also be at risk for a more serious disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. The most common symptoms of sleep apnea are periods of breathing cessation while sleeping; being awakened abruptly by shortness of breath; hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness); and loud snoring. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause headaches, weight gain, and memory problems as well as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Schedule an appointment with our doctor to learn how we can help you with this condition.
How is snoring treated?
First our doctor will recommend several lifestyle changes including losing weight and/or improving eating habits, sleeping on your side rather than your back, establishing regular sleeping patterns by going to bed at the same time every night, and avoiding antihistamines, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and heavy meals, snacks and alcohol at least 4 hours prior to bedtime. Nasal strips may also be recommended as they enhance breathing by increasing the area of their nasal passage.
If these don’t work, our doctor may then recommend:
An oral appliance, or form-fitting dental mouthpiece that helps to advance the position of your soft palate and tongue to keep your air passage open. You will want to visit your dentist for proper fitting and after the first six months to check on the status of your condition.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a surgical procedure under general anesthesia where our physician trims and tightens excess tissues to open the airway and eliminate snoring.
Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is an outpatient surgical procedure where our doctor shortens your soft palate and removes your uvula with the use of a small hand-held laser beam. This enlarges your airway to reduce vibration. This is not recommended for sleep apnea and may require several sessions.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP, pronounced “See-Pap”) involves wearing a pressurized mask over your nose while you sleep. A small pump is attached to the mask that keeps your airway open with the force of air. This eliminates snoring and prevents sleep apnea. For patients who need adjustment to the machine, we may recommend a heated humidifier to increase comfort.
The Pillar Procedure uses palatal implants, or braided strands of polyester filament, that are injected into your soft palate to stiffen the palate to reduce snoring.
Somnoplasty is a surgical procedure that uses low-intensity radiofrequency to remove part of the soft palate and reduce snoring. It’s an outpatient procedure performed using local anesthesia.
A Septoplasty may be performed to help obstructions in the air flow by fixing blockages in the nose.
A Tonsillectomy may be performed to remove the tonsils and adenoids to prevent snoring, particularly in children.