Sleep and Snoring: Treatment
Snoring is a common sleep disorder that can affect all people at any age, although it occurs more frequently in men and people who are overweight. Snoring has a tendency to worsen with age. Forty-five percent of adults snore occasionally, while 25% are considered habitual snorers.
Occasional snoring is usually not very serious and is mostly a nuisance for the bed partner of the person who snores. However, the habitual snorer not only disrupts the sleep patterns of those close to him, he also disturbs his own. Habitual snorers snore whenever they sleep and are often tired after a night of what seems like quality rest. Medical assistance is usually needed for habitual snorers to get a good night's sleep.
What Snoring Treatments Are Available?
If you occasionally snore, you can try the following behavior changes to help treat the problem:
- Lose weight and improve your eating habits.
- Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before you go to bed.
- Avoid alcohol, heavy meals, or snacks at least four hours before you sleep.
- Establish regular sleeping patterns. For example, try to go to bed at the same time every night.
- Sleep on your side rather than on your back.
- Prop the head of your bed -- not just your pillows -- up four inches.
If none of the above mentioned behavioral changes help snoring, talk to your doctor. Otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors) offer a variety of treatment options that may reduce or eliminate snoring or sleep apnea.
There are more than 300 devices on the market to help prevent snoring; however, none of these devices address all of the underlying anatomical problems that cause snoring (such as nasal obstruction and being overweight). Surgery may be needed to correct physical problems. Snoring and sleep apnea surgeries include:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP or UP3): A surgical treatment that tightens and restructures the flabby tissues in the throat and palate. This is often prescribed for people who have moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea.
- Laser-assisted uvula palatoplasty (LAUP): A laser procedure removes the airway obstruction. This treatment is performed under local anesthesia in a doctor's office and is intended for snorers and for people with mild obstructive sleep apnea.
- Somnoplasty: This is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radio frequency energy to shrink excessive tissue in the palate, uvula, and tongue tissue. This treatment can also be used to relieve nasal obstruction.
- Genioglossus and hyoid advancement: This is a surgical treatment for sleep apnea which prevents the collapse of the lower throat by pulling the tongue forward.
- Septoplasty and turbinate surgery: This is a surgery to fix blockages in the nose and help air through the nose smoothly and quietly.
- Tonsillectomy: Removing the tonsils and adenoids may be needed to prevent snoring, particularly in children.
Other Treatments for Snoring
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): A patient may be fitted with a nasal mask which forces air through the upper airway. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing during sleep. The pressure is constant and continuous. This should help the person breathe better and sleep through the night.