How to Stop a Snoring Man
Half of adult men snore. Here are the common causes and cures.
The device was introduced in 1981 and remains the standard of care for treating breathing problems during sleep. "I can almost guarantee that CPAP will cure almost anybody with sleep apnea -- if they wear it," says Collop. "They feel better usually the first night, and within two or three weeks they've shaken off sleep deprivation. The problem is to get people to wear it consistently."
Improvements of the sleep apnea machine have made the generator smaller and quieter, able to vary the air pressure depending on the patient's breathing patterns, and able to humidify the air to prevent dehydration in the airway. Currently, the device is about the size of half a loaf of bread, and can easily be taken on trips. Chin straps keep the mask in place during sleep (although they also make it look like you're wearing a bandage that holds your head together). In studies, compliance ranges from 50% to 60%.
Additional treatments for snoring and sleep apnea include weight loss, antihistamines to clear the sinuses, nasal dilators, and avoidance of alcohol at night. Snorers are also encouraged to change their sleep posture to avoid lying on their backs. Sometimes doctors recommend a variety of oral appliances, similar to an orthodontic retainer, which may improve airway pressure.
In the 1990s, a snoring surgery that involved "lasering off" bits of flesh from the soft palate of the mouth was popular. But this turned out largely to be a disaster because "it doesn't necessarily unblock your breathing. You decrease the snoring sounds -- the feedback to patient and bed partner is that they don't snore. But they might still have obstruction," says Strollo.
A last resort is maxillomandibullar advancement, a major operation. In this procedure, the jaw is surgically broken in two places and moved forward a centimeter. After the surgery, the patient is required to wear a retainer for 18 months. Strollo recommends it in fewer than 5% of the patients he sees.
"The challenge we have is to have patients take sleep seriously as part of their health," Collop says. "People think sleep can be put aside for other, more important things. We think it's as important as what you eat and how much you exercise."