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Snoring and Sleep Medicine

Snoring is a problem for a lot of adults, or more specifically for their partner! Snoring is generally created by turbulent (disturbed) airflow when the airway passage from the teeth to the windpipe is narrow and/ or floppy. The most common causes for a narrow airway include:

Nose Blockage – from deviated septum, turbinate swelling, hayfever, sinusitis

Throat Blockage – large tongue, large tonsils, long floppy palate

Neck Blockage – excessive weight in the neck, narrowing the internally breathing passage and placing excessive pressure on the airway tissues.  The neck blockage is usually associated with being overweight.

The problems caused by benign (or simple) snoring are largely social and affect mostly the partner.  Sleepless nights for the partner are initially amusing to the snorer, but may become serious eventually threatening the relationship.

Snoring may also be associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), which is defined as a period where the adult snoring patient actually stops breathing (usually for more than 10 seconds) due to the blockage in the airway.

OSA may have very serious long term consequences on health. 


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Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can include a combination of the following:

Good Sleep hygiene – appropriate environment, no electronic devices, regular sleep schedule, avoid alcohol and smoking


Weight Loss

Pressure Machine – the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device is the gold standard for treating OSA.  The machine has a mask that fits over the face, connected via a tube to a machine, that continuously pumps positive pressure air into the airway of the sleeping patient, preventing collapse of the tissues.

ENT Surgery  - surgery to unblock either the nose or the throat or both maybe suggested to improve CPAP mask use; or in an attempt to treat OSA without the CPAP mask.  Nasal surgery most commonly involves straightening the septum (Septoplasty) and reducing turbinate size (turbinate reduction or turbinoplasty).  Throat surgery most commonly involves tonsillectomy (+/- palate surgery called palatoplasty).  Your ENT Surgeon will make recommendations on surgery, if appropriate.

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