A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control shows that almost one-third of American adults don’t get enough sleep. If snoring or other breathing problems keep you or your partner awake at night, it might be time to visit an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. Your ENT can determine the cause of the snoring and provide the solutions you need. Surgery for snoring might be something to consider.

Why do we snore?

Snoring is breathing gone wrong. The sound is caused by tissues vibrating as we breathe. Normally, we should breathe through our nose. That is the way our body is designed. Air that arrives in your lungs via the nose has been filtered and conditioned for maximum oxygen absorption.

If you an obstruction keeps you from breathing through your nose properly, your body automatically compensates by breathing through the mouth. When this happens, the soft palate, the uvula, and tonsils can vibrate.

Many people that snore don’t realize that the root cause of the snoring is nasal obstruction.

Clearing nasal obstruction

Your ENT can perform an examination and observe imaging to determine if nasal obstruction is the cause of your snoring. There are many causes of obstruction.

  • Allergies. If you have uncontrolled allergies, the nasal turbinates can become swollen and prevent you from breathing freely through your nose. Controlling allergies through medication, avoidance, and immunotherapy can restore nasal breathing.
  • Polyps. Polyps are non-cancerous growths of tissue that can occur in the nose or sinuses. They grow in grape-like clusters and keep air from moving freely through the nasal passages. Polyps can be removed by endoscopic surgery.
  • Deviated Septum. The cartilage, bone and tissue that divide your nose into two nasal passages are collectively called the septum. If the septum is not straight it can obstruct nasal breathing. The septum can be damaged at birth or anytime afterwards. Surgery can correct and properly align the septum.
  • Sinus Problems. The sinuses may not drain properly causing recurring infections. Decongestants and antihistamines may provide temporary relief, but structural changes may be needed to provide proper drainage. Balloon sinuplasty or endoscopic sinus surgery can correct sinus drainage problems.

In many instances, the surgery to correct nasal obstruction will restore proper nasal breathing. When nasal breathing is restored, mouth breathing stops; and snoring stops along with it.

Snoring without mouth breathing

You can snore even if you breathe properly through the mouth. This isn’t as common as nasal obstructive snoring but it can be caused by tissues in the throat.

The soft palate is the tissue at the very back of the mouth, past the bony, hard palate. Behind the soft palate is the uvula. These tissues separate the back of the mouth from the nasal passages. They open to let air through and close to keep food and liquids out of the nose when swallowing. If these tissues are enlarged or if the muscles cannot keep it taut while you sleep it can vibrate.

Somnoplasty is a snoring surgery that corrects this condition. It uses radiofrequency ablation to shrink the tissue. The soft palate or the uvula can be the target of the procedure. The targeted tissue is heated just enough to kill the cells around the probe. The tissue will be absorbed by the surrounding tissue and the airway opened. Since the surface of the palate is protected, the pain during recovery and the recovery time is minimal.

If tonsils have become enlarged as a result of infections, they can vibrate while you sleep. A tonsillectomy may be necessary to prevent this cause of snoring.

The ENT and your sleep

If snoring is keeping you or your loved ones from getting the right amount of sleep, schedule a consultation with the ENT today.

The ENT is not only trained in conditions of the ears, nose, and throat, they are also trained surgeons. No need for a referral to a surgeon when you see the ENT.

Call today and take the first step to the best night’s sleep ever.