Snoring – Sleep Disorder
Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound, due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. The sound may be soft or loud and unpleasant. The structures are usually the uvula and soft palate. The irregular airflow is caused by a blockage, due to causes including: Throat weakness causing the throat to close during sleep, Mispositioned jaw, often caused by tension in muscles, Fat gathering in and around the throat, Obstruction in the nasal passageway.
Snoring is known to cause sleep deprivation to both the snorer and those who hear him/her, as well as knock-on effects: daytime drowsiness, irritability, lack of focus, decreased libido. It has also been suggested that it can cause significant psychological and social damage to sufferers.
Ordinarily, snoring is recognised by a friend or partner who observes the patient sleeping. Besides the ‘noise’ of Snoring, more complex conditions such as sleep apnea can be consistent with the symptom of snoring. A sleep study can identify such issues. Patients can also assess their own condition to determine the likelihood of such problems based on the severity of their sleeping disorder.
Almost all treatment for snoring revolves around clearing the blockage in the breathing passage. This is the reason snorers are advised to lose weight (to stop fat from pressing on the throat), to stop smoking (smoking weakens and clogs the throat), and to sleep on their side (to prevent the tongue from blocking the throat).
Surgery is also available to correct social snoring. Some procedures, such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty attempt to widen the airway by removing tissues in the back of the throat including the uvula and pharynx. These surgeries are quite invasive, and there are risks of adverse side effects. The most dangerous risk is that enough scar tissue could form within the throat as a result of the incisions to make the airway more narrow than it was prior to surgery, diminishing the airspace in the velopharnyx. Scarring is an individual trait. It is difficult for a surgeon to predict how much a person might be predisposed to scarring. Some patients have reported that they developed severe sleep apnea as a result of damage to their airway caused by pharnygeal surgeries. At the present time, the American Medical Association does not approve of the use of lasers to perform operations on the pharnyx or uvula.Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a relatively new surgical treatment for snoring. This treatment applies radiofrequency energy and heat (between 77ºC to 85ºC) to the soft tissue at the back of the throat, such as the soft palate and uvula, causing scarring of the tissue beneath the skin. After healing, this results in stiffening of the treated area. The procedure takes less than one hour, is usually performed on an outpatient basis, and usually requires several treatment sessions. Discomfort and pain is usually minimal. Radiofrequency ablation is frequently effective in reducing the severity of snoring, but, often does not completely eliminate snoring.