An otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) can help you to determine the source of your snoring using tests such as; an examination of mouth, neck and throat. You may be given a survey on daytime sleepiness, sleep quality and bedtime habits. Snoring may be a sign the more serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A sleep study (polysomnogram) is often used to confirm OSA. OSA is characterized by multiple episodes of breathing pauses greater than 10 seconds at a time, due to upper airway narrowing or collapse. This results in lower amounts of oxygen in the blood, which causes the heart to work harder. It also causes disruption of the natural sleep cycle, which makes people feel poorly rested despite adequate time in bed. Apnea patients may experience 30 to 300 such events per night. 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. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of developing heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and many other medical problems. 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. 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. Lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms, may involve: avoiding alcohol or sedatives at bedtime; not sleeping on the back; and losing weight.
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Dr Michael Farrell specialises in Adult and Paediatric ENT, Sinus Surgery, Head, Neck, Parotid and Thyroid Surgery, Laryngology/Voice Disorders
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.