Treatment of Snoring & Sleep Apnea
Snoring is a common condition that affects almost half of all adults at some point, occurring more often in men than in women. Snoring occurs when air flows past the throat while we are asleep, causing the tissues to vibrate and producing the sounds we recognize as snoring. This condition may be caused by nasal congestion, sleep apnea, being overweight, alcohol consumption or simply the anatomy of your mouth.
Many people are not aware that they snore unless it is brought to their attention by someone else. Although it seems harmless, snoring frequently disrupts your sleeping patterns or those of someone else. Heavy snoring may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which may lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.
Obstructive sleep apnea involves periods of completely obstructed breathing that typically last up to 10 seconds and disrupt sleep. It is important for patients who snore to receive proper medical care for this condition. If OSA is a consideration, Dr. Zimbardi and Dr. David will refer you to your physician who may order a special test called a polysomnogram. This sleep study may provide a definitive diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea.
If snoring is an issue for you, Dr. Zimbardi or Dr. David will evaluate your medical history and perform a physical examination to evaluate the severity of your condition. You may be referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) or sleep specialist for further evaluation of your sleep habits.
There are many options available for treating snoring, including medical remedies and behavioral changes that can be made. Behavioral changes are the simplest form of treatment for snoring, and may include:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol
- Changing sleep position
- Changing medications
These techniques are often recommended as initial treatment for snoring to minimize symptoms without the need for any medication. Most people experience significant relief from behavioral changes.
Patients with narrow nasal passages may need a nasal device or medication to open up the passage and allow for easier breathing. Some nasal passages are narrowed because of inflammation from allergies or other types or irritation, and can be corrected by treating the underlying cause. In consultation with your physician, Dr. Zimbardi or Dr. David can fabricate appliances that may improve your breathing while you sleep and decrease snoring. In some instances, your physician may recommend Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, which involves wearing a mask over the nose while sleeping.
In addition to these treatments, there are also many over-the-counter products available that may be effective in reducing or correcting snoring in some patients.
Patients with severe cases of snoring and those with sleep apnea may require surgery to correct their condition and restore proper airflow during sleep.
These procedures may include:
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) - This procedure treats obstructive sleep apnea by tightening the tissue in the throat and palate to expand the passageways.
Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) - This group of procedure include bipolar cautery, laser and radiofrequency to remove obstructions in the airway with the use of radiofrequency to shrink excess tissue in the area as well.
Septoplasty and Turbinate Surgery - This surgery reduces resistance to air flow through the nose.
Orthognatic surgery - This surgery is used to move your lower jaw and sometimes in conjunction with you upper jaw forward. This opens your airway and improves your ability to sleep.
Some patients also seek alternative remedies to correct their snoring habits, including hypnosis. Your doctor will decide which type of treatment is best for you after a thorough evaluation of your individual condition.