Loud snoring might be a symptom of sleep apnea.
With a diagnosis of sleep apnea, there are a number of treatment options,
both surgical and noninvasive.
Surgical treatment focuses on removing the excess tissue causing the
obstruction, and it usually involves either cutting away tissue with a scalpel
or using a laser to cauterize and shrink tissues. An approach that has come
into favor in the last year is called somnoplasty. In this procedure, a needle
inserted into the back of the tongue microwaves the flesh, shrinking it as it
heals into scar tissue.
The most popular and effective noninvasive treatment is the CPAP (continuous
positive airway pressure) device, which gently sends a continuous stream of air
pressure into the throat through a mask worn by the patient. But it doesn't
work for everyone. "I tried using the CPAP in November, but the mask made
me feel claustrophobic," Altenberg said.
Another option is a mendibular splint, a dental appliance to prevent the jaw
and tongue from sliding back during sleep. It may be sufficient treatment for
milder cases, according to Kram.
He adds that those who seek nonsurgical treatments should keep in mind that
they'll have to use these devices indefinitely. In Altenberg's case, he has
decided to have surgery with the hope that this decade might be a little more
restful than the last. He's keeping his fingers crossed.