Snoring affects roughly 90 million Americans and is often linked to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder characterized by brief pauses in breathing during sleep. 

Fortunately, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. The most common cause of snoring is a narrowing of the upper airway. Tissues in the back of the throat can relax and drop down during sleep, partially blocking the airway. As a result, the air from your breathing rattles the tissue, making a snoring noise as it passes. 

Simple snoring differs from sleep apnea in that people with apnea actually stop breathing for brief periods of time during the night. These episodes can last from a few seconds to more than a minute. 
Because these periodic breathing disruptions interfere with normal sleep patterns, people with sleep apnea often feel tired during the day, even after a full night's sleep. 

Our specialists at Southern ENT Associates offer effective treatment options for sleep apnea, which, if left untreated, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health issues.

Who is likely to develop sleep apnea?

When you sleep, your muscles relax, and this includes the muscles that keep your throat open and allow air to enter your lungs. During sleep, your throat normally remains open enough to allow air to pass through. 

But for some people, the throat narrows, and the airway becomes temporarily blocked. 

Loud snoring is a telltale characteristic of OSA, and the following conditions increase the likelihood of developing sleep apnea:

  • A shorter lower jaw
  • Large neck size
  • Large tongue
  • Obesity
  • Certain palate (roof of mouth) shapes
  • Large tonsils
  • Sleeping on your back

Another sleep disorder in which breathing can stop is central sleep apnea. This happens when the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the breathing muscles.

Is it snoring or sleep apnea?

If you've ever felt your partner nudge you awake or even wake yourself up, you know how annoying snoring can be. Because there are various types of snoring, we need to figure out what's causing it before we decide on the best treatment.

We perform a thorough evaluation to rule out other causes. If issues such as a deviated septum are causing your sleep apnea, we can perform corrective surgery. 

A deviated septum isn’t unusual and often causes no symptoms. It occurs when the thin wall (septum) between your nasal passages deviates to one side.

Whatever the cause, we discuss the best treatment approach after a comprehensive evaluation.

Treatment for sleep apnea

The goal of treatment is to keep your airway open while you sleep so you can breathe normally. 

There are several approaches to this. If you’re overweight, losing weight can improve sleep apnea, especially if you have mild sleep apnea.

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is an effective way to treat OSA. CPAP devices have a mask that you wear over your nose and mouth. The hose connected to the mask pushes air through the hose and mask to keep your airway open.

For some people, surgery may be an option. At Southern ENT Associates, there are several approaches we can take to improve your sleep apnea. Our surgeons can:

  • Remove excess tissue from your throat
  • Repair any structural flaws in your face
  • Remove large tonsils 
  • Remove large adenoids 

We discuss the available treatment options and assist you in choosing the most appropriate option for your situation. 

If you snore and have other symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness or morning headaches, schedule a consultation today. To get started, call our closest office. We have clinics located throughout southern Louisiana, in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Youngsville.

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