Q: How can I help my husband stop snoring?
One of the main reasons men come to my office is for snoring—and usually it's their wife bringing them in. Snoring happens when the soft tissue of the upper airway vibrates. It can be caused by some kind of resistance in the upper airway, or by the collapse of tissues in the throat. Narrowing of the upper airway, nasal congestion, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and obesity are all associated with snoring.
There are many things you can do to prevent low-level snoring, including losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and sleeping on your side. Treatments that keep the airway open—like nasal sprays for allergies, Breathe Right strips, or an oral appliance that pulls your jaw forward—can also help. Some people recommend upper airway exercises, and it never hurts to try.
If nothing else works, surgery can be an option. Depending on the cause of the snoring, a surgeon can straighten the septum, shrink soft tissues in the nose, make the back of the tongue smaller, or reduce the palate.
In more severe cases, snoring can be associated with sleep apnea—a potentially serious disorder in which the person briefly stops breathing during sleep. Surgery can help, and the person may need to use a continuous positive airway pressure machine, commonly known as a CPAP machine, during sleep.
David S. Crow, MD
71 Kanoa St., Suite 101
Wailuku, HI 96793