Snoring Treatment and Injection Snoreplasty
Why do we snore?
Snoring is noise produced by partial obstruction of airflow during sleep. Partial obstruction at the level of the soft palate is typically responsible for higher pitched snoring, whereas lower pitched snoring may come from the tongue base partially obstructing the throat.
Many factors may contribute to snoring. The length of the uvula and palate and the size of the tongue are factors which may determine how much each of these areas is responsible for snoring. Nasal obstruction cause by septal deviation or nasal congestion from allergies can affect snoring. Weight gain is a major factor in many patients who snore.
How can snoring be treated?
First, it is important to distinguish simple snoring from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when the airway is obstructed enough while sleeping to deprive the body of oxygen. In addition to the effects of oxygen deprivation on the brain and heart, OSA causes the brain to ?awaken? to a lighter stage of sleep in order to restore tone to the relaxed throat muscles, and open the airway. These mini-awakenings can occur hundreds of times per night, resulting in chronic fatigue. While snoring can be a significant aggravation for patients and their loved ones, OSA is a serious health condition which can contribute to heart failure and increase one?s risk of fatigue related accidents. It is important to discuss the possibility of OSA with your physician if you snore and have excessive daytime tiredness, or if loved ones have witnessed periods of apnea (breath-holding) during sleep.
There is no one size fits all treatment for snoring. Your physician can help identify factors such as allergies which may contribute to your snoring problem. Weight loss is one of the most important factors in snoring treatment. Avoiding sedatives or alcohol at bedtime can improve snoring., and sleeping on ones side can reduce or eliminate snoring in some patients. Sewing a pocket in the back of a night shirt, and placing a tennis ball in the pocket, can usually train anyone to learn to sleep on their side!
If simple solutions fail to help, there are surgical options which may help improve snoring. Many procedures are available to treat palatal snoring. All of these procedures involve some method of tissue injury or tissue removal from the palate and uvula. Snoring, without OSA, is unfortunately considered a cosmetic condition by insurance providers, and surgical treatment is not covered. The goal in surgical treatment of snoring has been a safe procedure which can be performed in the office and is as painless as possible. Laser assisted uvulopalatoplasty was an initial procedure that, while office based, was complicated by a painful recovery and high cost. Radio-frequency ablation (also known as Somnoplasty) has also been popular, but recovery is still quite painful for many patients, and expense is higher due to need for special equipment. As with most snoring procedures, more than one treatment may be necessary, which can be frustrating for patients who endure a painful recovery from each procedure.