Most of the patients who come to me looking for help with their snoring do so primarily for the benefit of their partner. If you happen to share a bed with a snorer, then you will know why.
25% of the adult UK population snore, so applying some very simplistic maths we're looking at about 50% of couples who are affected by this nightly nightmare.
Although often seen as a trivial matter, snoring can have some serious consequences. It has been linked to high cholesterol and increased blood pressure, and can be a symptom of a more serious sleep condition called obstructive sleep apnoea.
It can also be a serious cause of marital and relationship disharmony. The majority of patients I see in my clinic are men (although there are women too), and they almost always have a story about how their snoring is affecting their relationship. Either they end up sleeping in separate beds several times a week, or they don't and it causes arguments. If you're not getting a good night's sleep, the chances are you're going to be grumpier and more irritable than normal and that is not a recipe for a happy marriage.
What still surprises me about all of this though is that, considering the serious consequences snoring can have (it has even been cited as a reason for divorce), there are so many people who think that it is something that they just have to put up with. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, there are steps you can take to reduce, or potentially even stop, your snoring for good.
The first thing to look at is your lifestyle. Try cutting out alcohol and spicy food before bed and also think about whether you may need to lose some weight. You should also make sure there is good ventilation in the bedroom.
Secondly, you should try and diagnose the cause of your snoring. There are three main types of snorer; the throat snorer, the nasal snorer and the palate snorer, or you may be a combination of two or all three. There are some over the counter products for snoring which may be worth a try, but there is little point in trying a nasal strip if your problem is coming from your throat. An ENT consultant will quickly be able to establish what kind of snorer you are.
If it is a permanent solution that you are looking for, then over the counter is not the place to look. There are a couple of non-invasive treatment options that, depending on the cause of your snoring, can stop the nightmare of your nocturnal rumblings for good.
Laser assisted uvulopalatoplasty, or LAUP is one such treatment. It is a walk-in walk-out procedure carried out under local anaesthetic. It works by targeting the uvula, which is the 'dangly' thing that hangs at the back of the throat. When the uvula is unnecessarily large it vibrates in the throat whilst the patient is asleep, thus causing the snoring sound. The LAUP uses a laser beam to tighten up the uvula to stop the vibrating.
The treatment available to nasal snorers is another laser, used to either reduce enlarged fleshy ridges or 'turbinates' at the entrance of the sinuses, or to correct a deviated septum (a buckled partition between the two nostrils). With the airway cleared, patients will be able to breathe more easily at night and therefore their snoring will be significantly reduced.
Both of these treatments take less than 20 minutes to complete and patients can leave the clinic and continue with their normal routine immediately.
If your problem lies within your palate, then it is your dentist who may be able to help in the form of a dental splint if it is felt on examination that your lower jaw is somewhat smaller than normal.
Alternatively, in palate snorers who have a normal sized lower jaw laser surgery may also be used to remove the volume of redundant tissue within the palate. A further treatment offered is the use of high frequency heat energy (Celon) to "tighten up" the tissue within the palate thus reducing vibration when asleep and correspondingly reducing or removing the snoring sound altogether. Again this treatment takes less than 20 minutes to complete allowing again continuation of a patients normal routine immediately without any loss of time from work.
So, whatever the cause of your snoring, there is no need to suffer in (lack of) silence. There is help out there and treatment options available. If seeking a solution will improve both your physical health and the health of your relationship, then what are you waiting for?
For more information visit www.theprivateclinic.co.uk
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