Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Snoring is a very common sleep disorder which may be bothersome for both the individual and their loved ones. More importantly, snoring may be a warning sign of a serious medical disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition can affect one’s daytime performance, their job, and even their overall health.
Why do we snore?
It is estimated from medical studies that 45% of normal healthy adults snore occasionally, and up to 25% of these adults are habitual snorers. Heavy snoring is more common in males and in overweight people and the condition usually worsens with age.
Snoring is not simply a bad habit that a person can be trained to give up, as it is caused by a partial obstruction of the airway in the back of the throat and nose. The characteristic rattling sound is the vibration of the soft palate and uvula or other structures in the upper airway. This is the result of the airway being constricted by one or more of these physical conditions.
- Poor muscle tone in the soft palate which may worsen when the muscles are relaxed due to consumption of alcohol or drugs.
- Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids
- A large uvula
- Blocked nasal air passages, common with a cold or allergies
- Obstruction of the nasal passages caused by polyps, cysts, or a deviated nasal septum.
- Excessive weight which causes tissues in the neck to be bulky and flaccid.
- Hypothyroidism and other endocrine disorders.
- Underdevelopment of the lower jaw bone or chin.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea is an unsuccessful attempt to breathe through the nose and mouth, caused by an obstruction, which may involve the soft palate, uvula, nose, tonsils, adenoids or base of the tongue.
This serious condition may deprive the individual of oxygen. If you suffer from OSA, you are probably also being deprived of the deep sleep stages that you need for your body’s overall health. You may stay sleepy for much of the day, and may even fall asleep while driving or working. Recent medical research has shown that OSA may be associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and personality changes.
Since you alone cannot determine whether you suffer from simple snoring or obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Klausner may recommend a “sleep study” otherwise known as polysomnography. If a diagnosis of OSA is made, Dr. Klausner will work closely with your physician to outline a course of treatment that is appropriate for your condition.
Non-surgical treatment modalities are the first line of treatment. This may include the fabrication of an oral appliance to reposition the lower jaw and relieve the obstruction. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a mainstay of treatment for OSA and may be prescribed by your physician.
Surgical modalities may also be utilized to treat severe cases of snoring and OSA. A laser “reshaping” of the soft palate and uvula may be performed in the office or hospital setting. Other surgical procedures include advancing the chin and/or jaws (orthognathic surgery) to allow for repositioning of the tongue musculature, which serves to open the airway and relieve the obstruction.
What you can do to Decrease Snoring:
Mild or occasional snorers may find significant relief from these suggested guidelines or lifestyle changes:
- Avoid heavy meals within five hours of bedtime.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages within three hours of bedtime.
- Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills or antihistamines before going to bed.
- Sleep on your side, rather than on your back.
- Avoid smoking.
- Try weight loss, exercise and maintain a proper diet.
Dr. Klausner is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, and can help you to assess the severity of your condition. If you have previously undergone a “sleep study”, feel free to bring along the results so that a proper course of treatment can be prescribed. Depending upon your diagnosis, many of the previously mentioned treatment modalities may be covered by your insurance carrier.