When the world goes to bed at night, some experience a good night sleep while others snore with discomfort to others. This is not only a social problem but can lead to serious medical issues.
What is Snoring?
Air passes through the passage of nose, throat and back of tongue to enter the windpipe and the lungs. This is vital for oxygen supply to our body. When any of these passages are narrow, adjoining soft tissues of throat or tongue collapse. Collapsible soft tissues start vibrating with passage of air and produce unpleasant sounds of snoring.
What is Sleep Apnea?
In the night, when muscles relax, the airway collapse can be severe to obstruct air entering the lungs. This condition can lead to futile attempts in breathing with oxygen supply drastically. This period of no breathing is called Apnea. Reduction in oxygen affects the body overall. This can lead to a medical condition known as OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA SYNDROME (OSAS).
- Loud snoring during sleep
- Excessive day time sleepiness
- Does not feel fresh on awakening
- Decrease concentration during the day
- Attacks of choking in the night (patient may not be aware and may be noticed by partner)
- Reduced memory
- Depression, personality changes
- Reduces libido
- Children may be hyperactive with reduced attention span
- Chest pulls in during sleep (especially in children)
- Sleep on your side
- Elevate the head of your bed
- Limit alcohol and sleep medication
- Exercise regularly
- Lose weight
Severe OSAS can lead to a potentially life threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention.
The risks involved are:
- Excessive day time sleepiness - can result in accidents
- Heart attacks (studies show that OSAS patients have 24 times higher risk of having heart attacks in sleep)
- Strokes (paralysis, etc.)
- Irregular heart beat
- High Blood Pressure
- Fortunately, all of this is treatable.
Snoring can often seem like a problem without a solution especially when it is getting in the way of a good night's sleep for you and your partner. If you want to stop snoring, it is important to consider the cause and severity of this ailment. Identifying the cause can help you choose the right treatment.
Until now two modalities are known to treat this condition:
- One is using a machine in the night known as CPAP,which gives pressure of air to keep the airway open.
- Other is surgical correction of obstructing areas.
In 1990s, surgical laser treatment came on line to give relief for snorers.This came to be known as Laser Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty. It is possible to do the procedure as an outpatient treatment. Post treatment patients are prescribed medicines for 10 to14 days. If areas of obstruction are large, two or three sittings may be required every three to four weeks. Patient is allowed to eat soft diet on the same day. Bleeding with lasers is very minimal. Most of the time we combine other energy producing source like
radiofrequency to have better outcomes for snorers and obstructive sleep apnea. This appears to be an encouraging alternative to sleeping daily with CPAP machine, especially people who are frequent travellers.
Details of treatment are individualized and are best discussed with your specialist doctor.