Snoring & Sleep Apnea
What causes snoring?
Snoring occurs when there is a blockage to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. Blockages can be caused by:
- Allergy swelling
- Chronic infection
- Deformities of the nose or nasal septum (deviated septum)
- Enlargement of the nasal turbinate
- Large tonsils and adenoids or other bulky throat tissue
- Long or lax soft palate or uvula
- Nasal obstruction (a stuffy or blocked nose)
- Nasal polyps
- Poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat
- Sleep apnea and/or sleeping position
- Weight gain
Is snoring considered a serious problem?
Snoring can be a symptom of the issues above or a more serious problem, known as obstructive sleep apnea. With obstructive sleep apnea, the airway becomes totally blocked, leading to daytime fatigue, elevated blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can be serious, as it causes complete airway blockage that leads to intermittent breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea is diagnosed by symptoms, physical exam and sleep study, and treatment may be medical or surgical.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. The most common signs of sleep apnea are:
- Loud snoring
- Chronic fatigue
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated Epworth sleep score
Are snoring and sleep apnea treatable?
Yes. Based on your diagnosis, your ENT will work with you to determine your best course of treatment. An examination will reveal if the snoring is caused by nasal allergy, infection, deformity, sleep apnea or enlarged tonsils and adenoids. A variety of treatment options are available, and range from lifestyle changes to procedures.
Snoring treatment includes weight loss, change in sleep position, removal of nasal blockage, tonsillectomy (when necessary) and/or soft palate procedures.
Snoring or obstructive sleep apnea may respond to various treatments now offered by many otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is surgery for treating obstructive sleep apnea. It tightens flabby tissues in the throat and palate, and expands air passages. It includes tonsil removal.
- Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) refers to procedures and techniques that treat snoring. Some of them also are used to treat various severities of obstructive sleep apnea. Different types of TAP include bipolar cautery, laser and radiofrequency. Laser Assisted Uvula Palatoplasty (LAUP) treats snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea by removing the obstruction in the airway. A laser is used to vaporize the uvula and a specified portion of the palate in a series of small procedures in a doctor's office under local anesthesia. Radiofrequency ablation, or Coblation™, utilizes a needle electrode to emit energy to shrink excess tissue to the upper airway including the palate and uvula (for snoring), base of the tongue (for obstructive sleep apnea), and nasal turbinates (for chronic nasal obstruction). This procedure is approved by the FDA.
- Genioglossus and hyoid advancement is a surgical procedure for the treatment of sleep apnea. It prevents collapse of the lower throat and pulls the tongue muscles forward, thereby opening the obstructed airway.
All surgeries for sleep apnea are performed in the hospital with an overnight stay. Plan on one week out of work.
If surgery is too risky or unwanted, the patient may sleep every night with a nasal mask that delivers air pressure into the throat; this is called continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP.
A chronically snoring child should be examined for problems with his or her tonsils and adenoids. A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be required to return the child to full health.
Should I fix my nasal blockage?
If you have had failed allergy treatment, are experiencing sleep disruptions, snoring, having trouble breathing or are experiencing chronic/recurrent sinus infections, correcting your nasal blockage may improve quality of life.
Find Out More and Schedule an Appointment
To learn more about the treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea or to make an appointment, call 678-312-7390.