How To Stop Snoring: Can Your Doctor Help?

Find out what causes snoring and if contacting your physician can help cure the condition.

SNORING. Just hearing that word makes me cringe. My spouse snores, my father snored, I can hear the neighbor next-door snoring, and my spouse has even told me, that I too snore. I still think he's lying. I don't snore. Well maybe just a little. According to American Academy of Otolaryngology Head-Neck Surgery nearly 60 million adults snore. Like chemical dependency or infidelity, snoring may lead to marital discord, and possibly divorce. If you live with a person who snores you should know that it could be very disruptive to others within the household. Loss of productivity at home and work from daytime sleepiness can be due to lack of restful sleep. Snoring affects an estimated 24% to 50% of men, and 14% to 30% of women.

What causes snoring?

When you inhale during your sleep, your soft palate, (the soft area located up near the back of your throat) and your uvula, (that piece of skin that hangs down in the back) may vibrate against the back of your throat or the base of your tongue, causing the vibration noise that we refer to as snoring. The more relaxed you become, the narrower your airway, and the louder the snoring. Snoring may increase due to alcohol consumption, being overweight and even the common cold.

Health issues

There can be some related health issues that come with habitual snoring. According to the National Sleep Foundation, one illness that is of most concern is sleep apnea, a potentially life threatening condition caused by breathing cessation during sleep. Research confirms that people with sleep apnea have a higher incidence of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, possibly even death. Depression can occur due to loss of sleep and relationship discord. These health issues do not only affect the person that snores, but also the bed partner, because of fatigue from disruptive sleep.

Treatments for snoring/apnea

Traditional treatments for snoring can range from weight loss to quitting consumption of alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime. Taking an over the counter decongestant may reduce the swelling in the nasal passages and can help reduce snoring, you may also want to try sleeping on your side. If you have tried the traditional treatments with little or no success, you may want to consider an overnight evaluation at a sleep clinic. This will help the doctors identify the source of your snoring and will be able to find a better treatment. Doctors may prescribe a Mandibular advancement device. This is an oral appliance that slightly advances the lower jaw, which in turn moves the base of the tongue forward to open the airway to allow improved breathing. Approximately 60-75% are proven effective. The fees for the fabrication of this device can range anywhere from $750 to $1250. Depending on your benefits, insurance may cover.

In worst-case scenarios, surgery may be needed, but doctors will suggest this only as a last resort. The most common surgical procedure for treating snoring is Uvulopalatoplasty. This technique removes a portion of the soft palate and most of the uvula. The procedure is done with a laser on an outpatient basis and is usually done in phases. A similar surgical procedure is called Uvulopalatopharyngioplasty. This is a little more involved and is done in a hospital. This procedure removes all of the uvula and most of the soft palate. This treatment is only done in the most severe cases of snoring/obstructive sleep apnea. Somnoplasty is a minor procedure also done on an outpatient basis. Using a local anesthesia, this procedure shrinks excess tissue using low radio frequency. Somnoplasty is designed to minimize the pain and bleeding associated with other surgical procedures.

If you are experiencing sleepiness during the day, loud snoring or pauses in your breathing during sleep, make an appointment and discuss these problems with your doctor. Sleep disorders are treatable.

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