Snoring & Sleep Problems
Have You Heard the One About …?
Aw, snoring. It’s really funny sometimes, isn’t it? It can become the punch line of a joke, or the plot line of a sitcom. Even people who snore often make light of it. “I’m an ol’ buzz saw, all right,” they may quip. “My poor wife has learned to sleep with a pillow on her head.” Maybe you’ve made some jokes about your snoring problem, too. After all, it’s just a silly inconvenience, right? Might as well make the best of it.
Or, perhaps you’re embarrassed by your snoring, and you really want a solution. You may have tried special pillows, mouth guards or those t-shirts with the pockets for tennis balls on the back. Sometimes these work; sometimes they don’t. Chances are, if you’ve tried some of these over-the-counter remedies, you — and your spouse — didn’t get the results you were hoping for.
How Often are You Snoring?
Despite its silly reputation, snoring can be the result of a serious health problem and can have serious health consequences. According to the Mayo Clinic website, snoring is the rough or harsh sounds of breathing that has become partially obstructed during sleep. Snoring is a very common problem. In fact, nearly half of all adults snore, at least occasionally. Occasional snoring can be brought on by unusual fatigue, by a cold or seasonal allergies, even by alcohol consumption.
Occasional snoring will pass when the reason behind it passes. But, for the 25 percent of people deemed habitual snorers, there may be underlying health problems or sleep disorders that are causing their problem.
Common causes of habitual snoring include:
- Anatomy – The structure of your mouth and nasal pathways have a lot to do with snoring. People with a low or thick palate are more likely to snore because this tissue vibrates with breathing during sleep. An elongated palate and uvula can also narrow the airway and cause excessive snoring.
- Nasal problems – Anything that narrows the nasal passages increases the chances that someone will snore. These can include nasal polyps or a deviated septum. Allergies can also play a role, since they can lead to the swelling of nasal tissues and can also be a contributing factor in the formation of polyps.
- Sleep apnea -Sometimes called obstructive sleep apnea, this serious problem results in the complete blockage of the airways for brief periods of time. People with sleep apnea will often wake briefly — sometimes hundreds of times a night — to gasp for air. This can cause a fitful, restless sleep. The symptoms of sleep apnea can extend into the daytime hours and include sleepiness, headache, and the inability to stay awake while driving.
What Can Be Done?
There are many treatment options for snoring. Here are a few that the ENT doctors at Cleveland ENT, Physician Hearing Centers may consider.
- CPAP – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is a fancy name for a simple mask attached to a pump. Using the CPAP machine allows the wearer to sleep normally while the forced air keeps their airways open. While this is a very effective treatment, some people find it uncomfortable to wear a mask while trying to sleep.
- Pillar procedure – During this fairly simple procedure, a doctor injects strands of polyester filament into the soft palate area. The strands stiffen the soft palate so it is less likely to sag into the airway and vibrate.
- Somnoplasty – This outpatient procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia. Using low-intensity radio waves, a doctor can shrink the excess tissue in the soft palate area.
- Traditional surgery – The Mayo Clinic webpage, “Snoring Treatments and Drugs,” refers to this surgery as a “facelift for your throat.” During the procedure, while you are under general anesthesia, your doctor will remove and tighten the excess tissue in your throat that is causing you to snore. While this procedure is very effective, it does have, as with any surgery, side effects. These include pain, bleeding and the risk of infection.
- Laser surgery – Laser surgery also removes excess throat tissue, but the doctor uses a hand-held laser instead of a scalpel. This surgery has the benefit of being an outpatient procedure, though more than one session may be required to reach the desired effects.
With so many treatment options available, you don’t need to live with the embarrassment and the health risks associated with excessive snoring. Schedule an appointment today with Cleveland ENT, Physician Hearing Centers. Your ENT specialist at Cleveland ENT, Physician Hearing Centers will be able to order the proper tests to diagnose any underlying conditions associated with your problem, and will be able to prescribe the most appropriate treatment options for you.
The sooner you make your appointment, the sooner you will be on your way to a solution and a healthy, restful night’s sleep.