Snoring Solutions

At first, your snoring was the brunt of family jokes. But now it's not so funny. Your spouse is sleeping in the guest bedroom. And on weekend trips, your friends draw straws to see who gets to share a room with you.

Snoring affects about half of men and 30 percent of women - most age 50 and older. Although often considered simply a nuisance, loud, frequent snoring can disrupt the household and strain relationships.

To restore peace and quiet, simple change such as losing weight or sleeping in a different position can help. In addition, a new laser surgery can often cure or markedly reduce disruptive snoring. Yet laser surgery isn't advised for all snorers.

Throat Tissues "Flutter in the Breeze"

As you doze off and progress from a shallow to a deep sleep, muscles in the roof of your mouth {soft palate), tongue and throat relax. This causes tissues in your throat to sag.

Whenever the tissues droop enough, they partially cause the obstruction of the airway. Snoring happens when the flow of air go past the sagging tissues, triggering the tissues to reverberate every time you breathe. The narrower the airway, the more vigorous the flow of air becomes. Tissue vibration escalates and the snoring grows louder.

If a person has a low, thick soft palate or enlarged tonsils or adenoids, it can give additional restriction of the airway. Similarly, a lengthened uvula, which is a triangular piece of tissue dangling from the soft palate, hamper airflow and escalates vibration. The muscles of the throat further sag and weaken naturally as the person’s age increases.

How to Turn Down the Volume

To avert or minimize the volume of your snoring, attempt these easy changes initially:

  • If you are overweight, lose weight. Obesity is the usually the catalyst of snoring. Loose throat tissues are more likely to vibrate during breathing.
  • Sleep on your side. Resting on your back lets your tongue drop backward into the throat, decreasing your airway and partly hampering the flow of air. You can experiment with stitching a small ball in the back of your pajama top to avoid sleeping on your back.
  • Find treatment for nasal obstruction or congestion. Allergies or a Nasal septum deviation, which is a twisted partition between nostrils, hinders the flow of air through the nose. This coerces you to breathe through the mouth where a lot of flabby tissues are situated.

Utilize an oral or spray decongestant for less than four days for serious congestion. A prescription steroid spray is recommended for persistent congestion. Adhesive strips administered to the nose expand nasal passages and may aid in decreasing obstruction or congestion. You may require surgery to treat a deviated septum.

  • Minimize or stay away from alcohol, antihistamines and tranquilizers. These drugs can induce immoderate muscle relaxation by impairing the central nervous system.

Laser Surgery Is An Option

When lifestyle changes don't eliminate snoring, surgery may be an alternative.

For conventional surgery, you are administered with general anesthesia while the surgeon trims and tightens unwanted tissues, which is some sort of facelift for the throat.

The procedure markedly reduces or stops snoring most of the time. But it's painful and requires one to three days' hospitalization and about a two-week recovery.

In a new outpatient surgery for snoring called laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, your doctor uses a small hand-held laser to vaporize excess tissue.

The procedure is performed using a local anesthetic to numb your throat. You sit in a recliner-style office chair. Then as you exhale and say “aah,” your surgeon directs the laser beam to shorten the soft palate and trim about 50 percent of the uvula. Removing the excess tissues enlarges your airway and reduces vibration.

A person may require two to five sessions, based on the seriousness of the snoring. A single session usually last about thirty minutes. Snoring treatments are undertaken with a gap of four to six weeks.

Immediately after surgery, you can resume regular activities. Side effects include a moderate to severe sore throat, lasting four to eight days. In rare cases, the surgery may raise or lower the pitch of your voice.

When Laser Surgery Isn't a Good Choice

Snoring may be associated with sleep apnea. In this condition, excessive sagging of throat tissues causes your airway to collapse, preventing you from breathing.

Sleep apnea breaks up loud snoring with 10 seconds to two minutes of silence. Eventually, the lack of oxygen signals you to wake up, forcing your airway open with a loud snort.

If you have sleep apnea, laser surgery is not recommended. The surgery may reduce your snoring, but the laser cannot reach sagging tissues around your tonsils or along the wall of your throat where most of the collapse occurs. Because your snoring is improved, periods of silence when you stop breathing are less noticeable. This can falsely lull you and your family into believing your sleep apnea is better.

If your doctor suspects sleep apnea, an overnight stay in a sleep disorders center may be necessary to evaluate your symptoms.

Treating sleep apnea typically requires traditional surgery. Another option is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP involves wearing a pressurized mask over your nose while you sleep. The mask is connected to a compact pump that pushes air through your airway to prevent it from collapsing.

CPAP also helps relieve loud snoring that is not accompanied by sleep apnea. Although CPAP is an alternative to traditional and laser surgery, some people find it cumbersome and uncomfortable.

Sound Advice

Before you say “aah” to laser surgery, have your snoring evaluated. Be sure it isn't associated with sleep apnea.

To ensure the best results, have the treatments performed by a surgeon experienced in throat procedures.


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