If you or your partner snore, you are certainly not alone. Up to a third of Singaporeans have sleep disordered breathing, characterized by abnormal airflow during sleep. It is one of the leading causes of insomnia which can lead to a whole host of relationship and health problems.
Thankfully, there are effective snoring treatments for this very common problem. We recommend trying out some lifestyle changes before seeing your doctor. A quick summary of the lifestyle changes include:
- Losing weight
- Avoiding alcohol 2 hours before bedtime
- Treating nasal congestion such as from allergic rhinitis
- Avoiding sleep deprivation, try to get at least 7 hours a night
- Avoiding sleeping on your back
The below treatments are available for bothersome, persistent snoring:
1) Fotona NightLase® Therapy as a Snoring Treatment
Fotona NightLase® is a safe, effective and non-invasive treatment that improves snoring without any downtime. It uses an advanced Er:YAG laser to gently warm tissues and powerfully promotes the formation of new, former collagen. The end result is tighter soft tissues at the back of your mouth that keeps your airway open and helps you breathe better during sleep.
Each treatment is a quick 20 minute office procedure performed by a trained doctor. A course of NightLase® treatments consist of 3 treatments over a 6 week period. Up to 90% of patients report an improvement in their snoring after completing a course of NightLase® treatments, and the beneficial effect can last up to a year. The treatment can be easily repeated if the patient starts to notice the effect wearing off.
2) Oral appliances as a Snoring Treatment
Oral appliances are dental mouthpieces that help to push forward the position of your jaw, tongue and soft palate. They are customized by your dentist to fit your mouth and work to keep your air passage open while you sleep.
You will have to work closely with your dentist and sleep specialist to ensure that it is working well for you. Visits every 6 months are necessary to ensure that it is still fitting well.
The main problem with oral appliances is discomfort. They have to be worn nightly and are only effective when worn properly. Compliance rate is not high as discomfort often affects the sleep of the wearer. Moreover, excessive salivation, dry mouth and jaw pain are possible side effects from these devices.
3) Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine as a Snoring Treatment
Snorers commonly suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is a more serious condition where a patient experiences multiple episodes of stopping breathing while asleep. For those who suffer from OSA, CPAP is the gold standard treatment to improve their OSA.
Using a CPAP involves wearing a mask over your mouth or nose while you sleep. The mask is connected to a machine which pumps pressurized air through your airways to keep it open during sleep. This gush of air also improves snoring as the obstruction of airflow is reduced.
Although CPAP is the most effective method of treating OSA, some people don’t use it due to discomfort of the mask and pressurized air or noise from the machine. Long term compliance rate of those using CPAP for OSA is only 60 – 70%. Moreover, those who suffer from snoring but don’t have OSA do not need CPAP.
4) Upper Airway Surgery as a Snoring Treatment
There are a variety of surgical procedures that are available to open the upper airway and reduce narrowing during sleep.
For example, the most radical procedure is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), performed under general anaesthesia. During the surgery, your surgeon tightens and excises excess tissues from the palate and your throat. There is a long recovery period of a few weeks with considerable pain and difficulty with swallowing. Moreover, the recurrence rate of snoring a year after surgery is about 50%.
Other surgical options include:
- Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy: surgically removing enlarged tonsils and adenoids
- Maxillomandibular advancement surgery: moving the upper and lower jaws forward to open up the airway
- Somnoplasty: using a radiofrequency device to tighten the soft tissues at the back of the throat
- Pillar procedure: inserting rod-like implants into your palate to stiffen it
- Hypoglossal nerve stimulation: inserting a small device under your skin in the upper chest to send electrical impulses to your tongue to stimulate it to move forward
The problems with surgical procedures are the cost, pain, downtime and the significant recurrence risk after some time. The effectiveness of these techniques to improve snoring varies and the response is challenging to predict. They may also not treat generalized soft tissue laxity and floppiness which worsens with age.