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Snoring may be the first sign of sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep. The more common form is obstructive sleep apnea, in which the throat muscles relax, blocking the airway for short periods of time. In addition to snoring, you may also experience:
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical condition and may make you more likely to develop other health problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems and stroke.
To determine the best treatment for you, your doctor will ask you about your sleep problems and perform a physical exam. A sleep study is frequently used to get the best picture of how you breathe when you sleep.
Snoring and the Somnoplasty Procedure
Let’s face it: Snoring is annoying – and much more common than you might think. Forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. Snoring is more common in males and overweight people, and usually worsens with age.
If your doctor determines you are a “simple snorer” and do not have sleep apnea, you may be a candidate for a procedure called somnoplasty. Somnoplasty uses low-power, low-temperature radiofrequency energy to treat a well-defined area of the uvula or soft palate. This procedure is done in the Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat office under local anesthesia and usually takes less than 30 minutes. Radiofrequency energy is delivered beneath the surface layer of the soft palate. Since the delicate lining of the palate is protected, somnoplasty is virtually painless and allows for a quick recovery.