Updated: January 30, 2018
The vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping is known as snoring. The sound may be soft in some cases, but in most of the cases, it is loud and unpleasant. Snoring during sleep may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which is a serious health issue and requires medical attention.
There is no certain treatment that can completely stop snoring. But you can reduce the impact and severity to some extent by treating it in several ways. The aim of the treatment is to reduce the breathing discomfort by clearing the blockage in the air passage. Medications are usually not helpful in treating snoring symptoms. They can help control some of the underlying causes such as nasal congestion and allergic reactions. Therefore, lifestyle changes are recommended as a first line treatment to stop snoring.
Regular exercise, loosing excess weight, avoiding alcohol and certain medications such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills, sleeping on your side or abdomen rather than on your back, keeping your nasal passages open at night and quit smoking are some of the helpful tips to prevent snoring to some extent.
A number of other treatment options are also used to stop snoring. Over-the-counter aids such as nasal sprays, nasal strips or nose clips, lubricating sprays, oral appliances and anti-snore clothing and pillows can be used in some of the cases.
People who choose to change their lifestyle to reduce snoring can use orthopedic pillows.These pillows are designed to support the head and neck in such a way that the jaw stays open and slightly forward. This helps keep the airways open as much as possible leading to a small reduction in snoring.
Mandibular advancement splints are specially designed dental appliances which keeps the lower jaw slightly forward and thereby pull the tongue forward reducing snoring.
This can be an option where the apnea is mild to moderate. Mandibular advancement splints are often tolerated much better than CPAP machines.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is often used to control associated with sleep apnea. In this type of treatment a mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth which is hooked up to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nose while you sleep. The air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air, and is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring. Some people find it uncomfortable to wear a mask while sleeping. But with little practice, most people learn to adjust the tension of the straps to get a comfortable and secure fit. You may need to try more than one type of mask to find a suitable one for you with which you may feel comfortable. A humidifier along with your CPAP systems can also be used to get the benefit. Check with your doctor before stopping the CPAP machine if you experience problems to see what modifications can be made to make you more comfortable.
Surgery can be done to to widen the airway by removing tissues in the back of the throat, including the uvula and pharynx. The risk associated with this type of surgery is that as a result of the incisions to make the airway more narrow than it was prior to surgery, the airspace in the velopharynx reduces causing enough scar tissue within the throat.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is another way of surgical treatment for snoring in which radiofrequency energy and heat between 77oC and 85oC is applied to the soft tissue at the back of the throat, such as the soft palate and uvula. This causes scarring of the tissue beneath the skin. After healing, this results in stiffening of the treated area. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis and requires several treatment sessions of less than one hour each. Although radiofrequency ablation does not completely eliminate snoring can be effective in reducing the severity of it.