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Snoring & Upper Airway Obstruction

Snoring is a sound produced by the vibrations of the tissues of the nose and throat on breathing during sleep. Snoring is more common in men than women, and may increase with advancing age.

Normally when we breathe, air flows in and out in a steady flow from nose or mouth to lungs. But during sleep the area at the back of the throat, nose or mouth may get narrowed and when the air passes through this narrow opening the surrounding tissues vibrate producing sounds of snoring.

The most common cause of snoring is nasal passage obstruction caused from nasal septum deviation, allergies, sinus infections, swollen turbinates (nasal concha) and enlarged tonsils. It may also be seen in children who breathe through their mouth.

Certain medications and alcohol increase the relaxation of the muscles of the palate, tongue, neck, and pharynx leading to smaller airway and greater tissue vibration resulting in snoring. Snoring can also be a sign of sleep disorders or other sleep related breathing problems.

Your doctor evaluates snoring by taking a completed medical history and by physical examination. You may be asked about your snoring and sleep pattern and sleep problems. Body mass index (BMI) and neck circumference are estimated. Physician may examine throat, nasal and oral cavities to determine narrow oral and nasal passages. If sleeping problem is suspected then a sleep study can be performed.

Your doctor will decide about the treatment option for your child. Treatment options for snoring include non-surgical and surgical treatment.

Non-surgical treatment:

Behavioural changes: This therapy includes losing weight if overweight, avoiding alcohol or sedative medications, stop smoking, and changing sleeping positions.

Dental devices: Dental devices hold the jaw forward and these devices may be used for mild snoring and in people who have not responded from behavioural changes.

Nasal devices and medications: Adhesive nasal strips are available which can be placed over the nose. These will help in widening the nostrils and makes breathing easy. Nasal steroid sprays may be used to decrease the inflammation in the nasal passages. Decongestants nasal sprays and drops are prescribed to relieve the stuffy nose. These medicines shrink the swollen blood vessels in the lining of the nose and help to improve snoring resulting from nasal congestion.

Nasal continuous positive airway pressure: Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a device that prevents narrowing of the airway during inspiration and expiration by providing a persistent increased pressure.

Surgical treatment: The goal of the nasal surgery is to improve the narrow nasal passage. Surgery may be needed to correct the anatomic abnormalities. Deviated nasal septum may be surgically corrected with a septoplasty procedure. Polypectomy is done to remove the nasal polyps.

 

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