Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Sleep & Snoring:
Don't Let Sleeping Disorders Impact Your Life

Can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep? Or maybe it’s your partner who is unable to sleep because of your snoring? You’ve tried over-the-counter sprays and nasal strips, but nothing seems to solve the problem. If you can’t seem to find restful sleep and are experiencing a diminished quality of life due to a sleeping disorder, Southern ENT can help!

Forty-five percent (45%) of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25% are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight people, and it usually grows worse with age.

Treatment options are available that can restore a normal sleep cycle, meaning that you’ll rest better and feel better. As ENT physicians and sleep physicians with board certification, we are uniquely qualified to evaluate the entire upper airway and to offer a full array of surgical and non-surgical treatment options. We offer convenient home testing and treatment options for sleep disordered breathing. Our sleep center team will work with you to comprehensively diagnose and treat your sleep disorder so that you can get the quality sleep you need.

The questions below are widely used to measure a patient’s sleepiness. If two or more of the statements apply to you, you should consider consulting one of our physicians about a diagnostic sleep study.

  • I snore.
  • I wake up tired.
  • I wake up gasping.
  • I wake up with a sore throat.
  • I frequently wake up to use the bathroom.
  • It is hard for me to stay awake while driving.
  • I have fallen asleep while laughing or crying.
  • I wake up with pain and numbness in my legs.
  • I have difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep.
  • I have been told that I stop breathing while asleep.

Snoring & Sleep Apnea FAQs

What causes snoring?
The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway (see illustration) where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing.
Is snoring serious?
Socially, yes! It can be, when it makes the snorer an object of ridicule and causes others sleepless nights and resentfulness. Medically, yes! It disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of appropriate rest. When snoring is severe, it can cause serious, long-term health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
When loud snoring is interrupted by frequent episodes of totally obstructed breathing, it is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Serious episodes last more than ten seconds each and occur more than seven times per hour. Apnea patients may experience 30 to 300 such events per night. These episodes can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing the heart to pump harder.

The immediate effect of sleep apnea is that the snorer must sleep lightly and keep his muscles tense in order to keep airflow to the lungs. Because the snorer does not get a good rest, he may be sleepy during the day, which impairs job performance and makes him a hazardous driver or equipment operator. After many years with this disorder, elevated blood pressure and heart enlargement may occur.

Can heavy snoring be cured?
Heavy snorers, those who snore in any position or are disruptive to the family, should seek medical advice to ensure that sleep apnea is not a problem. An otolaryngologist will provide a thorough examination of the nose, mouth, throat, palate, and neck. A sleep study in a laboratory environment may be necessary to determine how serious the snoring is and what effects it has on the snorer’s health.
How are snoring and sleep disordered breathing treated?
Treatment depends on the diagnosis. An examination will reveal if the snoring is caused by nasal allergy, infection, deformity or tonsils and adenoids. Snoring or obstructive sleep apnea may respond to various in-office treatments offered by Southern ENT.

  • In Office Palatoplasty or thermal ablation palatoplasty (TAP) refers to procedures and techniques that treat snoring and some of them are also used to treat various severities of obstructive sleep apnea. Different types of TAP include bipolar cautery, laser and radiofrequency. Laser Assisted Uvula Palatoplasty (LAUP) treats snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea by removing the obstruction in the airway. A laser is used to vaporize the uvula and a specified portion of the palate in a series of small procedures in our office under local anesthesia.
  • In Office Radiofrequency ablation of the tongue is a minimally-invasive sleep apnea and snoring procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to tighten and shrink the base of the tongue and improve symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea. The treatment helps prevent the tongue from blocking the airway while sleeping. This procedure takes less than 30 minutes and is performed in our office under local anesthesia.
  • In Office Turbinate Reduction Tis a procedure to reduce the size of one or both inferior turbinates. Many patients are candidates for a minimally- invasive, office-based procedure to reduce the inferior turbinates. This office-based option, known as radiofrequency reduction, is performed under topical and local anesthesia (numbing solution placed into the nose followed by injection of lidocaine). The procedure generally takes 30 minutes and patients are able to drive home from the office.
  • What are turbinates?

    The internal side wall of the nasal cavity on each side has 3 sausage shaped protuberances. These are called turbinates (inferior, middle and superior turbinates). The turbinates are bony outgrowths which are lined by a thick mucous membrane. They act as “radiators” or the “HVAC” (heating/ventilation/air-conditioning) system for the nose with the purpose of warming, humidifying and filtering air for the lungs. The turbinates have a very rich supply of blood vessels underneath the mucous membrane and this allows for heat to be transmitted to the nasally inhaled hair. They are also coated with a thin, wet mucous coating which gives off water vapor and humidity to the nasally inhaled air. The mucous coating also traps foreign particles in the air (dust, pollen, mold spores, smoke particles, air pollution, carpet fibers, insects, etc) and thus filters the air before it gets to the lungs. The turbinates are necessary for normal nasal function but they can malfunction or become problematic in certain conditions (cogy flares, sinus infections, chemical irritation, congenital enlargement). During these conditions, the turbinates are swollen and cause congestion and obstructed nasal breathing or perhaps even blockage of the sinus drainage pathways. Medications designed to control the swelling may be effective in reversing the process. Sometimes the turbinates are irreversibly swollen and procedures are required to reduce their size.

  • Oral Appliance Therapy is a device worn only during sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard on an orthodontic retainer. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway.

Patients diagnosed with positive clinical symptoms (mild, moderate or severe) or comorbidities of obstructive sleep apnea symptoms may benefit from Auto CPAP therapy and oral appliances. In some cases, though, surgical therapy is required.

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a surgery for treating obstructive sleep apnea that tightens flabby tissues in the throat and palate, and expands air passages.
  • Radiofrequency ablation of the tongue is a minimally-invasive sleep apnea and snoring procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to tighten and shrink the base of the tongue and improve symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea. The treatment helps prevent the tongue from blocking the airway while sleeping.
  • Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. Tonsils are two small glands located in the back of your throat. Tonsils house white blood cells to help you fight infection, but sometimes the tonsils themselves become infected. It is also a treatment for breathing problems, like heavy snoring and sleep apnea.
  • Septoplasty / SMRT. A septoplasty is performed to straighten the cartilage of the septum and allow air to pass through the nose more easily. A submucus resection of the septum (SMR) is performed where there is only a small bump in the septum. This is simply cut away to leave a straighter septum. Sometimes a septoplasty/SMR is performed to allow easier access through the nose for sinus surgery.  Either one or both of the inferior turbinates are also reduced in size.
  • Hyoid Advancement is a surgical procedure for the treatment of sleep apnea. It prevents the collapse of the lower throat and pulls the tongue muscles forward, thereby opening the obstructed airway.
  • Inspire therapy is a breakthrough implantable treatment option for people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea who are unable to use or get consistent benefit from Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). While you’re sleeping, Inspire monitors every breath you take. Based on your unique breathing patterns, the system delivers mild stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve which controls the movement of your tongue and other key airway muscles. By stimulating these muscles, the airway remains open during sleep. The Inspire obstructive sleep apnea device is controlled by a small handheld sleep remote. The remote allows you to turn Inspire therapy on before bed and off when you wake up, increase and decrease stimulation strength, and pause during the night if needed.

A chronically snoring child should be examined for problems with his or her tonsils and adenoids. A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be required to return the child to full health.

What are some at-home treatments for light snoring?
Adults who suffer from mild or occasional snoring should try the following self-help remedies:

  • Adopt a healthy and athletic lifestyle to develop good muscle tone and lose weight.
  • Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least four hours and heavy meals or snacks for three hours before retiring.
  • Establish regular sleeping patterns
  • Sleep on your side rather than your back.
  • Tilt the head of your bed upwards four inches.
Remember, snoring means obstructed breathing, and obstruction can be serious. It’s not funny, and not hopeless.

You are in good hands....