Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring can be disruptive to your own sleep, as well as the sleep of your bed partner or others in the household. Snoring can also be a sign of a more serious problem, sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is where your throat becomes blocked during sleep, which can partially or completely stop air from flowing. When this occurs, you stop breathing for short periods of time (apneic episode). To breathe, you must fully wake up. The cycle repeats itself many times throughout the night. Other signs of sleep apnea include: gasp or snort in your sleep, wake up tired after a full night's sleep, wake up with a headache, feel very sleepy or even fall asleep during the day, have problems with memory or concentration, be cranky or short tempered.

Diagnosing the Problem:

A complete history and physical exam will be performed by your doctor. You may also need lab tests and x-rays. An overnight sleep study may be suggested. A sleep study provides us with the best picture of how you breathe when you sleep. The sleep study can be done overnight in a sleep clinic or you may be given a monitor to use in your own home. During the sleep study your breathing, heart rate, and oxygen level will be monitored. The findings of the study will help determine the best treatment option for you, as some treatments address snoring while others address both snoring and sleep apnea.

Treatment Options:

Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you.

Some less invasive treatment options include:

  • Sleep on your side – Sleeping on your side rather than your back. Tilt the head of the bed upward four inches.
  • Lose weight – Reduce weight with athletic lifestyle and healthy eating habits. Avoid heavy meals or snacks three hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least four hours prior to bedtime.
  • Avoid medications such as sedatives, sleeping pills, and some antihistamines prior to bedtime. These medications relax your throat muscles more than usual.
  • Nasal polyps or obstruction – Nasal steroid sprays and nasal strips may make breathing easier. If you have allergies or sinus problems, as your doctor for help.
  • Smoking worsens a stuffy nose, so quitting smoking would be beneficial.
  • Oral appliances – Moving the jaw and tongue forward with an oral appliance can open the airway. A dental specialist works with your doctor to build and fit an oral appliance that is customized for you.
  • CPAP (continuous positive air pressure)

Surgical Treatment options: The goal of most surgeries for breathing is to widen the airway. Surgery may be combined with other kinds of treatment.

  • UPPP (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) is a procedure that trims the uvula and removes other tissue from the back of the throat. It is performed to treat sleep apnea.
  • Nasal surgery and jaw surgery are other options that may be discussed with you by your doctor.

There is no guarantee that surgery will solve the problem. You may also have blockage in more than one place, so you may need more than one procedure. As with any surgery, there are risks of complications, including bleeding and infection.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call our office at 585-342-2080.