Sleep ApneaDid you know that snoring can be a warning sign of a serious medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea? It can affect your daytime performance, your job, and your health. Fortunately, there are effective treatments that can reduce or even stop your snoring.
Why do we snore?
It is estimated that 45% of normal adults snore occasionally, but 25% are habitual snorers. Heavy snoring is more common in males and overweight persons, and the problem usually grows worse with age.
Snoring is not simply a bad habit that a person can be trained to give up, but is caused by a partial obstruction of the airway in the back of the throat and nose. The characteristic rattling sound is the vibration of the soft palate and uvula or other structures in the upper airway. This is the result of the airway being constricted by one or more of these physical conditions:
- Poor muscle tone in the soft palate. This may worsen when muscles are relaxed by consumption of alcohol or drugs, or by smoking.
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
- A large uvula.
- Blocked nasal air passages, common with a cold or allergies.
- Obstructed nasal airways, caused by polyps, cysts, or a deviated septum.
- Excessive weight, causing tissues in the neck to be bulky and flaccid.
- Hypothyroidism and other glandular disorders.
- Under development of the lower jaw bone.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Snoring can be irritating, problematic, and life threatening. When you snore, you may merely annoy those in the same room, depriving them of sleep. You may be awakened by your own snoring pattern, interrupting your sleep cycle and causing fatigue. Or you may experience the problem in its most exaggerated form, known as obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is an unsuccessful attempt to breathe through the nose and mouth, caused by obstruction which may involve the soft palate, uvula, nose, tonsils, adenoids, or base of the tongue.
Obstructive sleep apnea can deprive the snorer of oxygen. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you are probably also being deprived of the deep sleep stages you need. You may stay sleepy much of the day, and may even fall asleep while driving, or on the job. Research has also associated the condition with high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Since you cannot determine whether sleep apnea is a problem, we may recommend a sleep test. The solution may be as simple as managing a nasal allergy or infection, or reshaping the soft palate by means of laser treatment.
Treating Snoring with a Laser
In some cases, the snoring may be best treated with laser surgery known as Laser Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP). This surgery, performed in the doctor’s office, uses exacting laser technology to reshape the soft palate and open the airway so you can breathe better during sleep. This laser treatment is generally completed over a series of visits, to minimize discomfort to the patient.
What You Can Do To Decrease Snoring
Mild or occasional snorers may find relief with the aid of a simple remedy or lifestyle change:
- Avoid heavy meals within 5 hours of going to bed.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages within 3 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, or antihistamines before going to bed.
- Sleep on your side, rather than on your back.
- Raise the head of the bed.
- Avoid smoking.
- Try weight loss and muscle toning.
Snorers should receive a thorough examination of the nose and throat to determine the cause of snoring and the best way to treat it.
The Snoring Surgery Specialists
We are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, and can help you assess the severity of your condition.
Depending on your diagnosis, the procedure may be covered by your insurance. Our staff and your insurance company can give you more details.
The presence of laser technology right in the office is your assurance that our doctors are dedicated to providing you with the most advanced care available.