Santa Cruz Ear, Nose, & Throat Medical Group

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About Sleeping and Sinuses


At Santa Cruz Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Group, we focus on helping individuals when it comes to your sinus and sleep health. Many people do not realize some problems within the nasal passages are completely treatable and may help reduce or eliminate snoring.

Curious how the professionals at Santa Cruz can help you better you sinus health? Read more to understand the causes, risks and treatment options.


Snoring

One of the biggest problems people have that is connected to the nose and sinuses is snoring. The act of lying prone to sleep produces changes (usually subtle) in the position of the head, nasal cavity, throat and neck. This change combined with several causes makes snoring a severe health issue for many people.


Causes

“Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. In some cases, the sound may be soft, but in most cases, it can be loud and unpleasant.” (1)

In a nutshell, that is the problem that has spawned hundreds of inventions and medications over the last century or more. There are few if any problems that occur to disrupt sleep more than snoring. The extent of the problem and poor results from devices or medication will determine if ENTs can become involved in the problem. A person who snores often wakes himself or others, is drowsy when awake and can show other signs of lack of sleep like irritability.

The cause of snoring is a combination of factors involving structures in the head and throat. Air entering the nose and throat becomes turbulent and vibrates the palate at the roof of the mouth, and the throat.


Concerns about snoring

People often have the mistaken idea that snoring is a nuisance but has few health risks associated with the problem. This is not true. Snoring is in itself a risk and it could also be a symptom of a serious condition. Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea. “Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing, or have very shallow breathing, while you sleep. This pause in breathing can last for seconds or minutes and may occur 30 or more times in an hour. If you have sleep apnea, you may not know that you've stopped breathing during the night. But you may wake up choking or gasping for air.” (2)

There are some severe health complications associated with sleep apnea. Patients should check with their ENT if they show any of these symptoms combined with an inability to sleep:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble focusing
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure

Snoring and other interruptions of sleep cause fatigue that in turn can lead to other health conditions. ENTs check patients’ general nasal and sinus health as well as specific problems related to the structures associated with snoring.


Treatments for snoring

There are many treatments for snoring; some work well, others do not. The ENT is concerned with helping snorers end the problem structurally if possible. This means that the otolaryngologist examines the palate, tongue, sinuses and throat for causes of snoring and possible treatments.

There are three main treatments for snoring (3):

Palatal stiffening procedures include three choices for stiffening the palate.

  1. Implants placed in the palate under local anesthesia support the palate, and the scar tissue that develops in healing helps the process. A stiffer palate allows less vibration when sleeping and helps stop snoring.
  2. Injection snoreplasty is a procedure in which a substance to stiffen the palate is injected in the roof of the mouth under local anesthesia. In much the same way as implants, the substance as well as scar tissue stiffen the palate.
  3. Radiofrequency treatment uses heat to stiffen the palate, also under local anesthesia. ENTs can recommend any of these treatments for stiffening the palate.

Another treatment option for snoring is removal of enlarged tonsils or adenoids. These structures cause sleep interruption, particularly in children. The removal is a surgical procedure under general anesthesia. Tonsils are located at the back of the throat, and adenoids at the back of the nose.

Nasal surgery is another treatment to consider. Many problems arise from nasal obstruction, and snoring is no different. Surgery to correct the septum often helps snoring.

  • Radiofrequency turbinate reduction is a procedure that uses heat to shrink swollen tissue. It is done under local anesthesia.
  • Septoplasty is the surgical repair or reshaping of the septum, the membrane that separates the nostrils. This procedure is similar to rhinoplasty, except that in rhinoplasty surgeons generally work on other structures as well.
  • Polyps and other abnormal growths can cause snoring. Removal of these growths is a surgical procedure.

If you’re concerned about your sinus health and snoring symptoms, make an appointment with one of our highly qualified professionals to determine if any treatment is right for you!


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snoring
  2. http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/eleven-health-risks-snoring/
  3. http://www.entnet.org/content/treatment-options-adults-snoring