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Sound Sleep, Healthy Life: Reduce Snoring With Expert Care

In every family today, there seems to be at least one member who is notorious for being a snorer. These are usually men – fathers, boyfriends, and husbands – whose nightly rackets are the topic of countless jokes. No wonder many find this topic so embarrassing that they become defensive anytime it ever comes up. Snoring can be an incredibly sensitive subject for both men and women, but the good news is, there are several ways to control or even treat it for good.

Also Read: Nasal Strips vs. Nasal Dilators: Which Is Right For Tackling Snoring?

What is Snoring? 

In the simplest terms, snoring is noisy breathing. When you sleep, the airway in your throat gets a bit squeezed (but not completely blocked). This makes parts of your throat – specifically the uvula, soft palate, and epiglottis – move around, like a flag waving in a strong breeze.

These parts of your throat are not tightly fixed in place, so when air rushes through your throat as you breathe in your sleep, they start to flutter. This flutter traps air for a brief moment against the back of your throat, causing a sound wave, much like the sound you hear when you clap your hands.

You might wonder, why doesn’t this happen during heavy breathing when you exercise? Well, during exercise, your muscles are more active and keep these parts of your throat in place. The same goes for normal breathing when you are awake – your throat muscles work hard to keep the airway and nostrils open, so you don’t snore.

When you sleep and your throat muscles loosen up, your breathing tube narrows a bit and your oxygen levels can dip slightly. Your brain picks up on this and tells your lungs to breathe faster to get enough air and keep your oxygen levels right.

Effective Treatment Options for Snoring

Change Your Lifestyle

When it comes to managing snoring, making some key changes in your everyday habits can go a long way. One of the first steps is to address any excess weight because too much fatty tissue around your neck and throat can put pressure on your airway. This pressure makes it more likely for the airway to narrow or even collapse while you are sleeping, leading to snoring. So even a modest amount of weight loss can make a big difference.

Keep an eye on your alcohol intake as well, especially in the hours before bed. Alcohol tends to relax the body’s muscles, and this includes the muscles in your throat. When these muscles slacken too much, they can partially block your breathing passages. By cutting back, you help keep these muscles firmer and the airway more open during sleep.

If you don’t have a consistent sleep routine, that might also be contributing to the snores as your body’s natural sleep rhythm may be out of order. Make your sleep environment more conducive to restful sleep, i.e., your bedroom should be quiet, dark, and cool. Your sleeping position matters too. Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to collapse back into your throat, obstructing the airway. By switching to sleeping on your side, you can eliminate nasal airway resistance, which helps reduce snoring.

Nasal Strips and Nasal Sprays

Nasal strips are a simple yet ingenious solution for snoring caused by nasal congestion. These small adhesive strips are designed to fit comfortably over the bridge of your nose. When you stick them on, nasal strips work by gently lifting and opening up the sides of your nose. This widening of the nasal passages allows for smoother airflow through the nose too. If you snore because of allergies or a deviated septum, external nasal strips are worth a try.

Nasal dilator strips are also a non-invasive and drug-free option, so almost anyone can use them, including those who prefer not to take medications or who might be looking for additional help alongside other treatments. The nose strips can come in handy during allergy season or when you have a cold and are struggling with congestion.

Nasal sprays work a bit differently. There are a lot of different types of internal nasal dilators – saline, decongestant, steroid, and antihistamine – most of which are formulated to either reduce inflammation in the nasal passages or moisturize them. For instance, decongestant sprays shrink the blood vessels in your nose, which can become swollen when you have a cold or allergies. By reducing this swelling, they open up the sinuses. On the other hand, saline sprays moisturize the inside of your nose, which can be helpful if your snoring is due to dry or irritated nasal passages.

As effective as these sprays are, overusing them can sometimes result in a rebound effect, where your nasal congestion gets worse once the medication wears off. It is best to use them for a short period only, usually no more than three to five days in a row.

You can find both nasal sprays and effective nasal strips to stop snoring at your local pharmacies and you rarely need a prescription for them. That said, if you have some health conditions that you are taking medications for, consult with your doctor before adding a nasal strip or spray to your routine.

Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Therapy

You may have seen someone suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) use a PAP machine, but it can be just as effective in reducing snoring.

PAP therapy uses a specialized machine that sends a controlled stream of air through a mask you wear over your nose, or both your nose and mouth, while you sleep. This stream of air acts like an invisible cushion, keeping your throat open and preventing the collapses that cause the breathing interruptions associated with sleep apnea.

There are different types of PAP machines:

  • CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure): This machine delivers a continuous flow of air at a set pressure, which helps you maintain clear breathing throughout the night.
  • BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure): BiPAP machines have two levels of air pressure: a higher one for inhalation and a lower pressure for exhalation. This can make breathing more comfortable for people who find it difficult to exhale against the constant pressure of a CPAP machine. BiPAP is recommended when you have a more severe form of sleep apnea or respiratory issues.
  • APAP (Auto-adjusting Positive Airway Pressure): These automatically adjust the pressure throughout the night based on your breathing patterns. If your snoring or sleep apnea varies with different sleep stages or positions, APAP machines are a smart choice as they can increase or decrease the pressure as needed.

Although PAP therapy is highly effective, getting used to sleeping with a mask can be a challenge for some. It takes time to find the right fit and pressure settings that are both comfortable and effective, it may also cause skin irritation in some. Many users find that with a bit of patience, they can comfortably use their PAP machine and enjoy significantly better sleep quality.

Do make sure to go to a board-certified sleep specialist if you are considering PAP therapy. They can help determine the most suitable type of machine for you, check the proper fit and settings, and guide how to get the most out of your treatment.

Minimally Invasive Palatal Stiffening (MIPS)

If non-invasive treatments don’t work, you can go the surgical route. But don’t worry, most procedures to rectify snoring are minimally invasive with little to no downtime.

One of the key examples is the Minimally Invasive Palatal Stiffening (MIPS) procedure. Exclusive to Florida Sinus & Snoring Specialists, the MIPS procedure is a specialized solution for individuals diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) caused by a soft palate or elongated uvula. In cases where traditional CPAP machines have shown limited effectiveness, Dr. Mandel offers a customized MIPS procedure using innovative diode laser technology. This technique addresses breathing and snoring issues arising from narrowed airways while minimizing the risk of postoperative discomfort.

Dr. Mandel conducts the Minimally Invasive Palatal Stiffening (MIPS) procedure in-office under IV sedation, taking only about 3 minutes as a standalone treatment or 15-20 minutes when combined with a nasal procedure. Utilizing a precision diode laser, Dr. Mandel targets the palatal surface of the uvula and soft palate to correct the obstructed area. The surgery aims to stiffen the soft palate, reducing breathing vibrations that contribute to airway blockages.

Patients undergoing Dr. Mandel’s MIPS procedure typically notice improved sleep within a week. The quick surgery allows for a swift recovery, with patients often able to return to work within 24 hours. Aside from a temporary sore throat lasting approximately a week, individuals report minimal postoperative discomfort. Moreover, the positive effects on breathing and sleep quality continue to enhance over the following weeks.

There are other potential treatment options: endoscopic sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty, tonsillectomy, and more. A sleep specialist or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) surgeon will thoroughly examine the structure of your jaw, the size of the tonsils, and the shape of the palate – using CT scans – to pinpoint the exact cause of the snoring and then recommend the best surgical option.

Also Read: From Restless Nights to Refreshed Mornings: Reduce Snoring With Expert Care

Talk to the Top Sleep and Snoring Specialists in Florida

Snoring can be exhausting, not just for you but for your loved ones too. At Florida Sinus and Snoring Specialists, we are committed to turning those sleepless nights into peaceful rest. Our expert team, led by Dr. Lee Mandel, is passionate about finding the solution that works for you. Using our hassle-free home sleep testing and a variety of treatment methods, we will work together to solve your snoring problem once and for all. Call us at 954-983-1211 or leave a message here to schedule an appointment.