Snoring may be related to something as short-term and simple as a cold, but chronic snoring can be an indication that you’re not getting the restful sleep you need. It could be a sign that you have sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that requires treatment.
In this blog, Dr. Cecil Yeung, a top Houston ear, nose, and throat physician, outlines the best treatment options for snoring.
What is snoring?
Snoring can occur when the muscles in the roof of your mouth and the tissues in your throat relax, and your tongue falls backward.
If your airway becomes partially blocked as these parts relax, it can cause the tissues of your throat to vibrate. The narrower your airway is, the louder you’re likely to snore.
What are the risks of untreated snoring?
Snoring can be a sign that you have sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder. If the narrowed airway that’s causing your snoring becomes completely blocked, it causes your breathing to temporarily stop as you sleep. This process can be repeated hundreds of times a night, depriving your brain and body of needed oxygen.
This can affect your overall health in many different ways and can also increase your risk of developing several chronic health problems.
Sleep apnea can cause the following:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness, putting you at risk of having an accident while driving or at work
- Loud snoring
- Gasping or choking sounds during sleep
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat when you awaken
- Changes in mood, memory, and/or ability to concentrate
- Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and irregular heartbeat
What are the best snoring treatment options?
Snoring is treated in several different ways, all with the same goal – keeping your airway open as you sleep.
Lifestyle changes, as well as non-surgical and surgical options, are available to treat snoring, and the most conservative snoring treatment options are tried first.
Snoring treatment options include:
- Losing weight – to help reduce excess tissue in your throat
- Stopping smoking – to reduce inflammation
- Sleeping on your side rather than on your back – this affects how and where weight falls on the airway
- Avoiding alcohol, sedatives, and sleeping pills – which relax your throat more than normal
- CPAP or APAP – A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) device delivers a steady stream of air into your airway via a tube and a mask you wear over your nose or your nose and mouth. It’s used every night to help keep your airway open.
- Oral appliance therapy (OAT) – A plastic mouthpiece is custom-made to help coax your lower jaw forward and stabilize the tongue to keep your airway open. It’s worn only at night and is similar to a sports mouthpiece or orthodontic retainer.
Surgery may be recommended if other snoring treatment options haven’t been effective. In many cases, FESS (functional endoscopic sinus surgery) can be used, which helps reduce your downtime after surgery while providing effective relief.
Surgery can be used for the following, as well for other issues related to sleep apnea:
- Removing the tonsils and adenoids
- Removing excess tissue at the back of your throat
- Removing excess tissue inside your nose
If you snore, a sleep study may be needed to determine if you have sleep apnea. Schedule an evaluation today with Houston Sinus Surgery at the Yeung Institute. Dr. Yeung has 20 years of experience in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea, and he pioneered the use of the FESS procedure in the Houston area.