Surgical Options for Snoring

Patient

Q: Snoring is affecting my relationship. Are there any surgical options for snoring and when would they be considered? What tests would be done prior to considering surgery?

Doctor

A:   Snoring may result from simple conditions such as fatigue, nasal congestion or because of sleeping position. More serious conditions may also present with snoring, like obstructive sleep apnea. Prior to starting treatment for snoring it is important to rule out obstructive sleep apnea as the underlying cause. Obstructive sleep apnea must be rule out as it is not only a sleep disorder but has implication for other organ systems in the body
As part of the evaluation of the snoring patient, a sleep study should be done. A sleep study measures several parameters while the person sleeps. It can be used to diagnose many sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea. Home oximetery (use of a small device applied to the skin to monitor oxygen content) may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment options for snoring are both surgical and non-surgical. Non-surgical options include simple behavior changes such weight loss and avoidance of alcohol or other sedatives. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is used along with behavior changes, for patients with obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP involves the use of a small device at night to keep the airway open and ensure adequate oxygen supply. A combination of pseudoephedrine and domperidone is useful for controlling snoring. Antidepressants may also help.  There are also oral devices that may be worn at night.
Surgical treatment involves a procedure called uvuloplasty. This procedure attempts to widen the airway by removing some tissues at the back of the throat. Surgery has complications and is usually reserved for persons in which non-surgical options have failed.

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