The sounds of snoring occur the same way that sounds we make when we speak are made. When air flows past our throat while sleeping, the tissues vibrate and create the sounds we recognize as snoring. Snoring is very common and occurs at least occasionally in almost half of all adults. Men are more likely to snore than women.
Snoring can be brought on by nasal congestion, alcohol consumption, sleep apnea, or simply the anatomy of your mouth. If your tonsils are enlarged, your airway can be narrower and vibrate more when air tries to flow through. Being overweight can also contribute to a narrowed airway.
You may not be aware that you snore unless it is brought to your attention by someone else. Your snoring may disrupt your proper sleeping patterns as well as someone else's. Heavy snorers may suffer from sleep apnea, a condition when snoring is frequently interrupted by periods of completely obstructed breathing. These periods, lasting up to 10 seconds, cause the oxygen level in the blood to drop and interrupts proper sleep.
For those with sleep apnea or just heavy snoring, there are several treatment options available:
- Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) - TAP is a variety of procedures used to treat snoring and sleep apnea. Some procedures include bipolar cautery, laser, and radiofrequency. Laser Assisted Uvula Palatoplasty (LAUP) removes the obstruction in the airway with a laser while radiofrequency ablation emits energy to the area to shrink excess tissue in the area.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) - involves the patient wearing a pressurized mask over their nose while they sleep. The mask pumps air through the airway to keep it open.
- Septoplasty and Turbinate Surgery - reduces resistance to airflow through the nose.
While snoring may seem harmless, it can be a serious medical condition that requires treatment to prevent future health problems for you and others. Talk to Dr. Lee today if you suffer from snoring.