Snoring is common in adults and can be a social problem. Those who share a bed with someone who snores can develop sleep difficulties. Snoring can sometimes be a sign of a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Apnoea involves periods when you partly or completely stop breathing for more than 10 seconds while asleep. The episode is followed by a sudden gasp or snort when breathing resumes. Then, snoring starts again. With OSA, the pauses in breathing occur because the airway has become narrowed, blocked or floppy. As well as OSA, some causes for snoring may include: being overweight; pregnancy; nasal congestion; swelling of the roof of the mouth (soft palate) or uvula (the tissue that hangs down in the back of the mouth); swollen adenoids and tonsils that block the airways; use of sleeping pills, antihistamines or alcohol before bedtime; large tongue size compared to the mouth; and abnormalities in the bones of the face. Factors that increase the risk of OSA include: certain shapes of the palate or airway that make it narrower or collapse more easily; large tonsils and adenoids in children that can block the airway; large neck size; and large tongue. Sleeping on the back also increases sleep apnoea episodes. Many people with OSA wake up unrefreshed in the morning and feel sleepy throughout the day. OSA may lead to leg swelling; depression; and hyperactive behaviour, especially in children. Tests will include an examination of mouth, neck and throat. You may be given a survey on daytime sleepiness, sleep quality and bedtime habits. A sleep study (polysomnogram) is often used to confirm OSA. Treatment aims to keep the airway open so that breathing does not stop during sleep. Lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms, including snoring, may involve: avoiding alcohol or sedatives at bedtime; not sleeping on the back; and losing weight. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a common treatment. CPAP is delivered by a machine with a tight-fitting face mask. It aims to decrease snoring and prevent sleep apnoea. Other treatment options may include: dental appliances to prevent the tongue from falling back; and surgery to the palate, nose, sinuses and airways.
North Shore ENT clinic specialises in Adult and Children’s ENT, including disorders relating to Sinus, Nasal and Breathing, Snoring and Sleep, Swallowing and Voice, Head and neck.
Dr Michael Farrell specialises in Adult and Paediatric ENT, Sinus Surgery, Head, Neck, Parotid and Thyroid Surgery, Laryngology/Voice Disorders