Snoring Surgery in Denver, CO
Snoring is natural and not typically considered a sleeping disorder when mild. However, occasionally, snoring can be an indication of obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that can have significant health ramifications.
Snoring Is Common
As we fall asleep, the tissues in the back of our throat relax and fall towards each other, causing them to rattle around against each other. This makes the noise we think of as snoring. For some of us the noise is enough to shake the room. For others, it can be soft enough to be soothing. But for most of us, the noise is just enough to be annoying.
What Causes Snoring?
Whether or not you snore depends on several factors:
- How much tissue you have in the back of your throat
- How much muscle relaxation you get when you sleep
- How much room you have inside your nose
The amount of tissue in the back of the throat is determined by how big are small our tonsils are, how long our pallet is, and how much we weigh overall. As we gain weight, we not only add tissue around our midsection, we also add tissue to the back of the throat. The increased tissue in the back of the throat causes the airway to narrow, making it easier for the throat tissues to hit each other and cause snoring sounds.
For this reason, weight loss can be a very effective way to improve snoring most of the time. This is also why surgery to remove the tonsils can help snoring as well. It simply creates more room in the back of the throat for air to pass through.
How to Reduce Snoring
Since part of the reason people snore has to do with how much muscle relaxation we experience, anything that decreases muscle relaxation can help with snoring. Conversely, alcohol, sleeping pills, and even antihistamines cause increased muscle relaxation, which makes snoring worse. You can also decrease the intensity of your snoring by:
- Avoiding alcohol near bedtime
- Not using sleeping pills
- Taking your allergy medicines earlier
- Losing weight
Sleeping on your side can sometimes reduce snoring, since gravity pulls the tissues in the mouth backwards as you relax when sleeping on your back. You can also improve snoring by addressing other factors that may be contributing, such as nasal obstruction, deviated septum, allergies, etc.
Book a consultation with our expert Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors to discuss your snoring symptoms and treatment options.
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How Does Snoring Affect Sleep?
Snoring is caused by tissues collapsing and momentarily blocking the airway, which means even mild snoring can result in a less effective sleep period. Most people with loud snoring, even if they don’t have any other issues, often experience trouble sleeping and fatigue that they wouldn’t have if not for the disturbance of snoring.
In severe cases of snoring, the throat tissues can actually completely collapse on one another, blocking the airway for many seconds at a time. This is referred to as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea not only causes decreases in energy, it can also have significant health effects including problems with high blood pressure, headaches, increased risk of stroke or comma and increased risk of heart attack. This is one reason why it is important for anyone who snores to be evaluated by an ear nose and throat physician if they appear to stop breathing at night when sleeping.
Nasal Obstruction Makes Snoring Worse
One of the most common contributing factors to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is nasal obstruction. If your nose is congested while you sleep, you have to pull harder to get air to move through your nose. This pulls the tissues in the back of the throat closer together, increasing the intensity of your snoring. Improving your ability to breathe through your nose while you’re sleeping can significantly reduce your snoring.
We can address nasal obstruction with daily medicines, allergy treatment, nasal strips, or surgery. Almost everyone that our doctors see for snoring at Advanced ENT & Allergy also suffers from nasal obstruction. These patients find that their snoring improves noticeably once they have been treated with medicine or surgery to open up their nasal airway.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
If a sleeping disorder like obstructive sleep apnea is suspected, you can be diagnosed with a sleep study. A sleep study can be done at home in your own bed, and the data collected gives us valuable information about your sleep patterns. It tells us if you stop breathing while sleeping, how often it happens, and how long it lasts. The machine also tells us what effect the snoring is having on your heart rate and blood oxygen levels during these episodes.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea disorder, a specialized mask worn over your nose while sleeping can sometimes cure the sleep apnea and eliminate snoring. Many people with sleep apnea, however, have too much nasal obstruction to be able to tolerate a mask. In these cases, surgery to improve breathing through your nose can help both the snoring and sleep apnea.
Sleep Better Thanks to Denver’s Breathing Specialists
At Advanced ENT and Allergy, we have decades of experience diagnosing and treating various nasal airway issues, including severe snoring. Are you ready to get a good night’s sleep?