Description: The effects of loud snoring are numerous. Both the intensity and inherent irregularity of the snoring sound produce its annoying effects. A bedpartner’s sleep disruption can be substantial, leading to sleep deprivation and serious tension at home. Often a major source of embarrassment for the sleeper, it can disrupt business and vacation travel. The presence of snoring must also be recognized as an important clue to a potentially even more serious medical disorder, the interrupted breathing in sleep known as sleep apnea syndrome.
Reasonably consistent and disruptive snoring is extraordinarily common, with estimates that 1/3 of the male and 20% or more of the female population is affected. By age 60, around 60% of men and 40% of women do so. The intensity can be truly extraordinary: the world’s record is nearly 90 decibels, louder than a pneumatic drill! Snoring is best seen as the sound produced by vibration of the soft tissues of the throat. These tissues relax far more than is normally seen in those who don’t snore. The loudest is typically a deep guttural quality, not the usually softer nasal variety arising from nasal obstruction or congestion.
Evaluation: Specific testing to characterize and quantify the snoring sound itself is usually unnecessary. However, a careful review of a person’s sleep and medical histories is important to try and ensure this doesn’t signal a more serious underlying condition. A third or more of those who consistently snore have obstructive sleep apnea. It is impossible for any physician to be able to really tell that a person’s breathing is truly normal while they sleep. The measurement of breathing during sleep before anyone undergoes surgery of the throat or uses a dental device for what may seem to be simple snoring is absolutely essential, as these treatments may help or eliminate snoring but there ability to stop apnea in sleep is very unpredictable. You must know ahead of time what you really have, so that you don’t become someone with undetected sleep apnea, a “silent apneic”.
Treatment: A wide range of treatments are available for snoring once it has been properly evaluated. These include weight reduction, sleep position therapy, decongestants, modification of alcohol intake, modification of medications being taken for other conditions, nasal patency devices, allergy therapy, dietary modification to eliminate foods affecting nose and throat function, nasal surgeries, palatal surgeries, special dental devices, specially designed pillows, and prescription medications. Surgical techniques include laser (LAUP), and traditional palatoplasty (UPPP). Remember that snoring is not necessarily simple but there are rational and effective solutions when its properly evaluated. Dental devices fit by a specialty trained dental sleep specialist are very popular option and PSP works with many dental providers in the area.