Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Snoring & Sleep Apnea Specialist
Snoring is a common complaint, affecting 45% of adults occasionally and 25% routinely — and that doesn’t include loved ones who may be bothered by the nocturnal sounds. While shifts such as using a body pillow and practicing good sleep hygiene can help for mild cases, sometimes snoring indicates sleep apnea, a potentially serious health condition. Guadalupe ENT in Seguin and New Braunfels, Texas specializes in the evaluation and treatment of snoring and sleep apnea.

Snoring & Sleep Apnea Q & A

What Causes Snoring?

During sleep, the muscles in your throat relax, causing your throat to become narrow and limp. Meanwhile, the tongue falls backward and the walls of the throat vibrate as you breathe in, and somewhat as you breathe out. These vibrations trigger snoring sounds. The more narrow the throat becomes, the louder the snoring is.

Other factors that may contribute to snoring include:

  • Abnormalities of the nose or throat, such as enlarged tonsils or nasal polyps
  • Aging, which leads to more relaxation of throat muscles
  • Alcohol, which relaxes muscles
  • Functional abnormalities, such as inflammation caused by allergies or infection
  • Sleep positions, such as sleeping on your back

When is Snoring a Problem?

Snoring can be bothersome, to you and anyone sleeping nearby. If the walls of your throat don’t merely narrow but collapse during sleep, it may indicate the serious condition sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes repeated, brief interruptions in breathing while asleep. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when muscles in the back of the throat fail to stay open, even when you try to breathe. Central sleep apnea, less common, happens when the brain fails to send the right signals to throat muscles that control breathing.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

A variety of factors increases the risk for obstructive sleep apnea, including:

  • Alcohol use
  • Age 40 or older
  • Overweight
  • Ethnicity: African-American, Pacific-Islander, or Hispanic
  • A large overbite, small or recessed chin, or large neck
  • A large tongue, tonsils, or uvula
  • A small upper airway
  • Smoking

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Numerous treatments help manage sleep apnea. After an exam that includes review of the symptoms, such as the frequency and intensity of daytime sleepiness and gasping or choking during the night. Dr. Hennessee may recommend a study that monitors your breathing, eye movement, and other factors, while you sleep. The most common effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is the use of a positive airway pressure device. The mask worn during sleep blows air into your airway, keeping it open.

Other treatments include:

  • Dental appliances that reposition your tongue and lower jaw
  • Hypoglossal nerve stimulation
  • Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and quitting smoking
  • Nasal expiratory positive airway pressure
  • Upper airway surgery to remove tissue in the airway
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