It is estimated that 45% of normal adults snore occasionally, while nearly 25% are habitual snorers. The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is obstruction of the free flow of air along the passage from the nose or mouth, especially where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures abut against each other and vibrate during breathing. Many factors can cause or worsen snoring, such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, soft palate or uvula. Obstructed nasal airways, such as we find in an allergic nose or deviated nasal septum can frequently exacerbate the signs of snoring. Finally, being overweight or excessive alcohol or sedative use can aggravate snoring.

While snoring is noticeable because of its negative effect on bed partners, snoring can also be a symptom of a more serious medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a severe obstruction of throat tissues that cause an individual to stop breathing for varying lengths of time, and often momentarily wake up as they gasp for air. This cycle of obstruction and gasping may be repeated throughout the night leading to poor quality sleep and daytime somnolence. Other symptoms of sleep apnea may include weight gain, sexual dysfunction and depression. If left untreated OSA can lead to hypertension, heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

Our doctors at Affiliated Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians are skilled in evaluating the causes of your snoring, utilizing the latest state-of-the-art fiberoptic technology. Once the cause of the snoring is confirmed, we can then establish which treatment options will be most beneficial. Understandably, weight loss, avoiding sedatives or alcohol before sleep and sleeping on your side rather than on your back will be helpful. However, if these conservative steps are not effective, then more aggressive therapy will be needed. These may include:

  • Nasal surgery, to relieve the nasal site of obstruction
  • Tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy
  • Pillar implants to stiffen the palate, preventing it from vibrating
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) to remove and tighten excess tissues in the throat and palate.

Many of these procedures are often performed in our office under local anesthesia; while the more extensive procedures require general anesthesia performed in an operating room, but frequently on an outpatient basis.

In the investigation of OSA an overnight sleep study Is essential, and can often be performed in your own home. This study will confirm the diagnosis of OSA and its degree of severity. Depending on the degree of obstruction, treatment options may include CPAP – an appliance used during sleep that forces air into the upper airways to keep them open. For more severe problems various surgical treatments are available. Kindly contact any of our offices to set up an appointment with our physicians to review your particular condition.