Caused by a narrowing or blocking of the airway, snoring disrupts the airflow and causes the soft palate and tissues of the throat to vibrate. In addition to being annoying to those around you, snoring can also disrupt your own sleep and more importantly impact your overall health. It can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating or headaches.
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a patient experiences one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. The sleep disruption caused by sleep apnea can negatively impact your quality of sleep, leaving you tired and irritable.
Mild sleep apnea can often be treated with lifestyle changes such as losing weight, positional therapy or by wearing an appliance to help maintain an open airway while you sleep.
For moderate to severe sleep apnea, a breathing device called CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or surgery to widen the breathing passages by shrinking, stiffening, or removing excess tissue in the mouth and throat or resetting the lower jaw may be helpful. A CPAP machine uses a mask that fits over your mouth and/or nose and gently blows air into your throat. This air pressure helps keep your airway open while you sleep. Surgery to shrink the tissue involves a small shot into the breathing passages. Surgery to stiffen excess tissue requires a small incision in the tissue and inserting a piece of stiff plastic.