Snoring is caused when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This obstruction will occur when the muscles of the palate, uvula, tongue, and throat relax during sleep. When relaxed, these structures collapse and vibrate, making the noisy sounds of snoring.
Should I Be Worried About My Snoring?
Yes. Socially, snoring can disrupt the sleep of loved ones, many of whom choose to sleep separately from their partner. This can cause immense strain on a relationship. More importantly, snoring is also a medical issue because it disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of appropriate rest. When snoring is severe, it can cause serious, long-term health problems because chronic snoring is one of the known symptoms of a serious condition called sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when airway obstruction interrupts normal breathing that can last 10 seconds or longer. These interruptions occur several times during sleep, with as many as 30-300 episodes per night. Sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness and has been linked to higher incidences of stroke, heart disease, and even weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 18 million people in the United States suffer from sleep apnea with fewer than 50% properly diagnosed.
What Is Involved in My Evaluation?
A complete and proper evaluation cannot be over emphasized if any treatment is to be successful. A thorough history needs to be done that will take into account your sleeping habits, medications, and lifestyle issues such as weight that may play a significant role in this condition. A physical examination would follow to identify any and all areas of airway obstruction. After a history and physical exam, if we suspect sleep apnea, then a sleep study would be ordered. The sleep study may be done at one of our affiliated sleep labs or a home sleep study might be ordered.
If sleep apnea is diagnosed, then appropriate treatment would depend on whether you have been diagnosed with mild, moderate or severe sleep apnea. At that time, all available and appropriate treatments such as the Pillar Procedure among others will be discussed during our consultation.