Twenty-five percent of people are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight people, and it usually grows worse with age.
If you snore, you may have at least one of the following problems:
- poor muscle tone (lack of tightness) in the muscles of the tongue and throat
- excessive bulkiness of tissues of the throat
- problems with the size and shape of the palate
- obstructed nasal airways
Is snoring serious?
Since snoring disturbs sleeping patterns, a person who snores may not sleep restfully. Furthermore, heavy snorers tend to develop high blood pressure at a younger age than non-snorers.
Obstructive sleep apnea is an exaggerated form of snoring. Loud snoring is interrupted by frequent periods of totally obstructed breathing. This is serious if the episodes last more than 10 seconds each and occur more than seven times in an hour.
Apnea (obstructed breathing) sufferers may experience 50 to 500 episodes per night, and many spend as much as half their sleep time with blood oxygen levels below normal. During the obstructive episodes, the heart muscle may not receive sufficient oxygen, resulting in irregular heartbeats that may be life threatening.
Since snorers with severe sleep apnea are often unaware of it, a laboratory sleep study may be the only way to discover the condition.
Snoring and sleep apnea can be more than a bother to your sleep partner. Dr. Steven Coutras, a WVU Medicine otolaryngologist, discusses the unexpected health effects that can come about with untreated sleep apnea.
Can snoring be cured?
Snoring means obstructed breathing, and obstruction can be serious. A child who snores should be thoroughly examined by a physician. Medical evidence suggests that a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy will probably make an important difference in the health and well-being of the child.
If you snore, you should be examined to find out if you have a serious problem. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis, and it may be as simple as managing nasal allergies or infection. In other cases, surgery may be required to correct a nasal deformity or to remove large tonsils or an enlarged uvula.
Dr. Coutras provides comprehensive surgical care for patients with obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, specifically those who have not had successful medical treatment or are interested in exploring other treatment options.
Our multi-disciplinary team of surgical and sleep providers collaborate to develop individualized treatment plans for patients with sleep apnea or snoring problems, which may include:
- A comprehensive history and physical examination including an airway evaluation
- Nasal surgeries – septoplasty, nasal turbine reduction, nasal valve reconstruction, or nasal tumor or polyp removal
- Palatal surgeries – uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), tonsillectomy, palate radiofrequency, palatal implementation
- Base of tongue surgeries – lingual tonsillectomy, partial midline glossectomy, radiofrequency to the base of the tongue, genioglossal advancement, hyoid myotomy and suspension, tongue suspension suture
- Other surgical procedures – maxillomandibular advancement, tracheostomy, limited uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, custom oral appliances
Through our ongoing clinical research, our team continually collaborates to refine and improve surgical treatment of OSA.