Do you know that approximately 45% of adults snore occasionally at some point throughout their lives? Furthermore, 25% are habitual snorers.
Inspire therapy is a breakthrough implantable treatment option for people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea who are unable to use or get consistent benefit from CPAP.
Regarding gender, do you know that problem snoring is more frequent and common in males compared to females? Actually, people who are overweight are more susceptible to problem snoring, and it typically worsens with age.
If you (or your loved one) are a problem snorer, you should not dismiss it as just annoying snoring. Rather, snoring can be an indication of obstructed breathing, which can cause significant complications if not treated.
If there is an obstruction to the free flow of air throughout the passages at the back of the mouth and nose, you will hear the noisy snoring sounds. Specifically, this is the collapsible area of the airway. It is located where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula.
When these structures come in contact with each other and vibrate while breathing, snoring will occur.
If children snore often, this could potentially be a sign of tonsil and/or adenoid problems. In this case, it is important for the child to get examined by an otolaryngologist. He or she may recommend an adenoidectomy or a tonsillectomy to fix the snoring problem.
If the muscles become too relaxed, the tongue will fall backwards into the airway or the throat muscles in order to draw in from the sides into the airway. It is natural for some relaxation to occur while sleeping. However, it may become a problem if heightened with alcohol or drugs that may cause sleepiness.
If children have large tonsils or adenoids, chances are high that they will be snorers. People who are overweight tend to have extra soft tissue in the neck, and this can lead to airway narrowing. It is important to note that tumors or cysts are often rare causes of airway narrowing.
Long Soft Palate and/or Uvula:
A long palate will narrow the opening from the nose into the throat. When someone is practicing relaxed breathing, the excessive soft palate length (and/or uvula) mimics a noisy flutter valve, which causes snoring.
When someone’s nose is blocked or stuffed, it requires extra effort to pull the air through the nose. This process creates an exaggerated vacuum in the throat. The vacuum pulls the floppy throat tissues together, and this causes snoring sounds. Therefore, snoring may potentially only occur during hay fever season, or if someone has a cold or a sinus infection.
Furthermore, if someone has a deformity of the nose or nasal septum (deviated septum- “a deformity of the wall that separates one nostril from the other”), this can cause an obstruction (and lead to snoring).
Snoring can be serious for social and medical reasons. Socially speaking, the snorer’s bed partner can become very agitated or ridicule the snorer. Also, snoring can cause many sleepless, restless nights for the bed partner, not to mention fatigue.
Medically speaking, snoring disturbs the natural sleep patterns a person should experience. Therefore, the snorer never has adequate rest. Also, snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA, if left untreated, can lead to dangerous, long-term health complications.
If you or a loved one snores heavily, it is best to seek medical help right away.
How do you determine if you snore heavily? Answer: if you snore constantly when laying down in any position; or if your snoring negatively impacts your bed partner’s sleep.
If you find yourself in this situation, seek help from an otolaryngologist. He or she will conduct a thorough examination of the throat, palate, nose, mouth, and neck. A fiberoptic scope will be used to complete this examination. This exam can determine the underlying causes of snoring— a nasal allergy, nasal obstruction, infection, and/or enlargement of adenoids and tonsils.
In addition, a sleep study may be necessary to determine if OSA is the cause of the snoring. The sleep study can be conducted in your home or in a laboratory.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is advised to get evaluated for possible OSA:
Treatment for heavy snorers will depend on the diagnosis and the level(s) of upper airway narrowing. For some patients, more than one area can be involved.
There are a few different ways to treat OSA or snoring, and sometimes, various treatments are recommended by an otolaryngologist head and neck surgeon.
Inspire therapy is a breakthrough implantable treatment option for people with obstructive sleep apnea who are unable to use or get consistent benefit from CPAP.
If you’d like to learn more about the Inspire sleep apnea treatment option, visit the Inspire website.
This type of procedure will recede the tissue bulk in the nasal turbinates, soft palate, and/or the tongue base. Thermal ablation procedures can be used to treat OSA and snoring problems.
Different types of thermal ablation procedures include: laser, bipolar cautery, and radio frequency. The procedures are usually completed in the operating room or during a doctor office visit. There is a chance that a few treatments will be required.
There are a couple of methods that will increase the stiffness of the soft palate, but will not remove the tissue. One method is to inject a substance that will cause stiffness in the injected area near the uvula. The second method is the insertion of stiffening rods, called Pillar implants, into the soft palate.
Genioglossus and hyoid advancement is a type of sleep apnea surgery to treat this condition. The surgery will prevent the collapse of the lower throat, and it will pull the tongue muscles forward. The result is an opened, unobstructed airway.
Like the CPAP option, the custom-fitted oral appliance is a great treatment method for those who do not want surgery. The oral appliance will reposition the lower jaw forward. A snoring doctor or sleep apnea specialist who has expertise in sleep dentistry can create a custom-fitted oral mouthpiece for you.
For some patients who lost a significant amount of weight, their OSA and snoring problems improved. One more reason to lose weight!