A Stiff Upper Palate Can Quiet Snoring

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While the procedure is a new one of his own devising, Mair says it may now be in use by other doctors. First reported at a medical meeting last year, injection snoreplasty results prompted a flood of emails from doctors interested in learning the procedure, he says.

Mair says an estimated 40-60 million people have some degree of habitual snoring. Most of those -- perhaps 80% -- are due to palatal flutter. The rest may be due to obstruction caused by a thickening of the back of the tongue or a nasal obstruction. Among those two groups, perhaps 5% will have snoring associated with obstructive sleep apnea, when the obstruction actually causes the sleeper to stop breathing momentarily.

Mair tells WebMD that snoring patients who undergo the procedure are also tested for apnea. And further studies are underway to determine if injection snoreplasty also can treat obstructive apnea, he says.

The lengths to which snorers will go to be relieved of their nighttime noisemaking is liable to be determined by others in their household who can't take it anymore. And sometimes those others -- spouses or children -- can be adamant, though snorers themselves may be reluctant to undergo painful or expensive procedures, Mair says.

It was this that led Mair to find a simpler solution. And the story of how he came across injection snoreplasty using Sotradecol illustrates how there is nothing -- even in medicine -- that is new under the sun.

Mair had earlier developed a procedure to stiffen the palate by peeling off a layer of skin. The resulting scar causes the palate to stiffen -- less painful than UPPP, but still not a procedure snorers were eager to undergo. "You still hurt for about 10 days," Mair says.

Later, while traveling in England with his wife and perusing garden sales, Mair ran across an old medical journal from 1943 describing a small study using scarring agents to stiffen the palate and stop snoring.

Different areas of the palate were treated in that study and much smaller amounts of a substance no longer available were used, but the results were excellent, Mair says. "It remains unclear why the concept of injection [therapy] for the treatment of palatal flutter snoring did not develop further after this intriguing case series presentation," Mair writes in his report.