Around 40% of the adult population snore. In severe cases it can lead to sleep deprivation, affecting you during the day or causing relationship problems because of disrupted sleep.
Vibrations in the airway behind the tongue cause snoring. During the day, the muscles at the back of the throat (the tongue, walls of the throat and the uvula) are tight enough to hold the airway open, but during sleep these muscles relax and become floppy. The airway behind the tongue becomes narrower as the support loosens. This narrowing leads to airflow impairment while breathing in and causes the walls of the throat to vibrate, producing the characteristic sound of snoring.
Additional factors can increase the chance of snoring.
There are several different treatments to help with snoring that is having a negative impact on your life: dental appliances, sleep studies and surgery.
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You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We offer several treatments to help reduce your snoring. The correct treatment is often provided once you have been assessed and in some cases after you have had a diagnostic sleep study.
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Depending on your particular circumstances, there are a variety of treatments to help reduce your snoring.
These are best for cases when a sleep study confirms snoring alone is mainly due to the position you sleep in or for milder sleep apnoea.
If a sleep study confirms that snoring occurs mostly you’re sleeping on your back, symptoms may be remedied by changing your sleeping pattern. You may want to try sewing a tennis ball (or similar) into the back of your pyjamas.
If the relatively straightforward measures don’t work then surgery may be an option. An ENT specialist can remove enlarged tonsils, straighten a broken nose, or remove nasal polyps if these are the cause of snoring. The back of the throat can also be tightened or the excess soft tissue that contributes to the vibration that causes snoring can be removed.
It is clinically not possible to predict those who will benefit from surgery and most ENT surgeons recommend a sleep study to see how much the snoring is interfering with breathing before deciding if an operation is appropriate.
CAUP (Coblation Assisted Upper Airway Procedure) with or without tonsillectomy. This procedure involves partial excision of the uvula, the structure that dangles at the back of the throat and which normally vibrates to create the noise of snoring, as well as scarring of the soft palate by creating small channels on either side of the uvula.
This is done using low-temperature plasma energy delivered via a surgical instrument into the soft palate. This results in an area of scarring and hence stiffening of the soft palate. In individuals with large obstructive tonsils, these can also be removed as part of the procedure if necessary.
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The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
Spire St Anthony's Hospital is a large private hospital close to Sutton and Epsom, on the borders of Surrey and South London, providing very high quality healthcare in a calm and peaceful environment.