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Snoring and sleep apnea: Steps you can take to guard your health and get a better night’s sleep
General Wellness

Snoring and sleep apnea: Steps you can take to guard your health and get a better night’s sleep

By M. Boyd Gillespie, MD, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), Otolaryngology
Posted: March 3, 2021

More than 40 million Americans suffer from snoring and sleep apnea, including 24% of adult males and 9% of adult females.

What is snoring?

Snoring is the result of turbulent airflow through a partially collapsed airway during sleep. Snoring can cause someone to have poor sleep, daytime sleepiness and fatigue — and it can disrupt the sleep of bed partners. 

What can I do to help with snoring?

Possible treatments for snoring include behavior modification, medical therapy and minimally-invasive surgery.

Behavior modification

Patients are encouraged to exercise and control their weight, stop smoking and reduce exposure to alcohol and/or other sedatives prior to bed.

Medical therapy

Medical therapy includes treatments for nasal allergy and acid reflux if present. Patients with bite abnormalities often respond well to special bite guards that can be worn during sleep.

Minimally-invasive surgery

There are also several minimally-invasive surgical options for snoring that can be performed in the office under local anesthesia or in an outpatient surgery center. Typically, patients experience only mild discomfort and are able to resume a normal diet immediately.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that occurs when there is complete collapse of the airway during sleep.

Sleep apnea may result in snoring, excessive sleepiness and fatigue, high blood pressure, depression, an increased risk of automobile accidents, heart disease and stroke. It may also be a cause of increased weight gain, which in turn worsens the condition.


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How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

Patients with any of the following symptoms should see a physician for an evaluation:

  • Snoring that is loud or bothersome
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Pauses or gasping during breathing while asleep
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness

If you have these symptoms, you should undergo a medical evaluation for sleep apnea. Diagnosis requires a sleep study, which can now be performed at home in most cases.

How is sleep apnea treated?

If you have sleep apnea, it is important to get treated in an effort to reduce the long-term risks of heart disease, stroke and automobile accidents.

Possible treatments include:

  • Weight loss therapy
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
  • Oral appliances (bite guards)
  • Surgery

How our team can help you:

UT Methodist Physicians Head and Neck Surgery offers all treatment modalities and will work with patients to find a treatment that best suits his/her needs. The goal of treatment is to reduce risk of a serious health event, improve sleep quality, reduce snoring and increase daytime energy level.

We offer the following diagnostic services to help get to the root of your condition.

  • Comprehensive medical and sleep evaluation
  • Fiberoptic examination of the upper airway
  • Home snoring and sleep apnea testing
  • Full medical report outlining individual risk factors and likely prognosis of sleep apnea

If we determine treatment is necessary, the following services are available:

  • CPAP mask prescription and monitoring
  • Hypoglossal nerve stimulation therapy (Inspire)
  • Upper airway radiofrequency ablation (opens nasal passages and stiffens floppy areas of the throat)
  • Pillar Palatal Implants (small threads inserted in the soft palate near the uvula that reduces airway collapse and vibration to reduce snoring and apnea)
  • Custom Oral Appliance (patient is fitted with a special oral bite-guard while snoring to determine the proper position of the jaw needed to treat the snoring and apnea)
  • Nasal surgery to open blocked nose
  • Transoral robotic surgery