When we sleep, our throat muscles relax and vibrate when air tries to pass through but is blocked, causing snoring. Snoring is very common and occurs at least occasionally in almost half of all adults. Snoring can be brought on by nasal congestion, alcohol consumption, sleep apnea or simply the anatomy of your mouth. If your tonsils are enlarged, your airway can be narrower and vibrate more when air tries to flow through. Being overweight can also contribute to a narrowed airway.
You may not be aware that you snore unless it is brought to your attention by someone else. Your snoring may disrupt your proper sleeping patterns as well as your partner’s. Heavy snorers may suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which sleep is frequently interrupted by periods of completely obstructed breathing. These periods can last over 10 seconds at a time.
For those who experience heavy snoring, and possibly sleep apnea as well, there are several treatment options available:
- Uvulectomy – This procedure involves removing the uvula, which hangs from the rear of the mouth, to stop vibration and snoring. It is performed under general anesthesia.
- Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) – TAP is a variety of procedures used to treat snoring and sleep apnea. Some procedures include bipolar cautery, laser and radiofrequency. Laser Assisted Uvula Palatoplasty (LAUP) removes the obstruction in the airway with a laser while radiofrequency ablation emits energy to the area to shrink the problematic excess tissue.
- Genioglossus and Hyoid Advancement – surgically opens up the lower throat and pulls the tongue muscles forward.
- Injection Snoreplasty – Injection snoreplasty is a nonsurgical treatment for snoring. This procedure injects a hardening agent called sodium tetradecyl sulfate into the upper palate that eventually helps to reduce the volume and frequency of snoring. The agent creates a blister just in front of the uvula, and when the blister hardens a few days later, it pulls the uvula forward to open up the airway and reduce snoring vibrations.
- Septoplasty and Turbinate Surgery – reduces resistance to air flow through the nose.