How Is Snoring 'Diagnosed?'
Your doctor will ask about any allergies you may have, as well as about your eating patterns, what medicines you take, and whether you drink alcohol or smoke. Your doctor will also examine your throat and nasal passages for any signs of nasal, mouth, dental, jaw, or throat deformities that may contribute to snoring.
If your doctor suspects that you have obstructive sleep apnea, your partner may be asked to keep a diary noting your sleeping and snoring patterns. You can also take a sleep-monitoring study, which will analyze if, when, and how often you stop breathing during sleep.
What Are the Treatments for Snoring?
There are hundreds of products, exercises, medical devices, drugs, and surgeries that claim to treat snoring. However, in most cases, simple lifestyle changes can help stop snoring. They include:
- Don't drink alcohol within three hours of bedtime.
- Avoid sedatives and antihistamines, especially at bedtime.
- If you're overweight, get to and maintain a healthy weight. Losing even a few pounds may make a big difference.
- Exercise can strengthen and tone muscles, including those in the neck.
- If you suffer from allergies, try to eliminate allergens in the bedroom -- such as removing pets, regularly washing your sheets in hot water to remove dust mites, and removing any mold.
- Sleep on your side.
- Use a humidifier if the air in your home is too dry.
A variety of products designed to help you sleep on your side -- a position that can decrease snoring -- may help some people.
A variety of products designed to dilate the nasal passages, such as nasal strips or nasal support devices, may work in some people with congestion or nasal abnormalities.
Other products include pills, sprays, and herbal products that claim to decrease nasal congestion and devices to correct mouth breathing. These haven't been aggressively studied, so caution is advised.
Over-the-counter products that work by keeping you in a more wakeful sleep, which does not allow you to obtain a restful, deep sleep. This can contribute to dangerous and excessive sleepiness.
If you have a jaw or mouth abnormality that is causing nasal obstruction, your dentist may be able to fit you with a dental appliance to correct the problem and lessen snoring.
If your doctor suspects that you have sleep apnea, treatment may include:
- Weight loss, if you are overweight
- A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device or BPAP (bilevel postitive airway pressure) device; this is a mask-like device that you wear at night to maintain air pressure in your nose and keep airways open.
- An implanted device called Inspire. The device, called an upper airway stimulator, consists of a small pulse generator placed under the skin in the upper chest. A wire leading to the lung detects the person's natural breathing pattern. Another wire, leading up to the neck, delivers mild stimulation to nerves that control airway muscles, keeping them open.
- Surgery; there are a variety of surgeries now available to treat some causes of snoring, including somnoplasty, which uses radiofrequency ablation to shrink the tissues of the soft palate. These types of surgeries may be performed in the office and others in a surgical setting. Your doctor can make a recommendation whether or not surgery would be helpful for you.