Laser snoring treatments and help with sleep apnoea
Medical conditions associated with snoring and sleep apnoea
What problems are associated with snoring and sleep apnoea?
Snoring and sleep apnoea are part of the same disease process - severe snorers who are not yet sleep apnoeics will suffer early stages of the diseases caused by sleep apnoea. Both are primarily associated with poor quality sleep. The feeling of tiredness during the day has been very strongly linked to an increased risk of car/lorry accidents, for understandable reasons. The DVLA needs to be informed if you have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, you will usually be stopped from driving until they are sure you have been adequately treated.
Sleep apnoea is also related to other significant disease, such as heart attacks, heart rhythm disturbances, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, loss of memory/libido/concentration, increased irritability.
Therefore, addressing snoring and sleep apnoea as a problem can lead to a distinct improvement in general health, and, since the treatment is mainly aimed at improving breathing, your quality of life and ability to exercise should also improve.
For short form answers to the common snoring and sleep-related issues below please see our Snoring & Sleep FAQ page
What are the best solutions for snoring?
What is a snoring pillow?
Are snoring chin straps dangerous?
Are snoring mouthpieces safe?
Are snoring and sleep apnoea the same?
Are snoring mouth guards effective?
Are anti snoring sprays safe?
Can snoring cause headaches?
Can snoring be stopped?
Can snoring make you tired?
Can snoring cause sore throat?
Can snoring be a sign of cancer?
Can snoring cause neck pain?
Do snoring sprays work?
What causes snoring?
The cause of snoring is sound production at the back of the throat due to turbulent (ie noisy) airflow. This occurs at night due to loss of muscle tone in sleep, with collapse and narrowing of breathing passages often already compromised by an underlying problem. We don’t snore whilst awake because muscle tone holds our airway open. Turbulent airflow occurs because the airway narrows or becomes blocked.
The underlying problems that can precipitate snoring are:
Nose blockage leading to mouth breathing/opening. This causes the tongue to slide back and obstruct the throat at the back of the tongue. Causes of nose blockage are a deviated nasal septum, large adenoids, large turbinates, nasal polyps, allergy, chronic sinusitis.
A long and thick soft palate - which sits behind the tongue, compromising the airway at the back of the tongue, the key area in snoring.
Large tonsils which block the back of the throat, again affecting the airway at the back of the tongue.
Excessive weight on the neck, causing pressure on the airway when muscles relax in sleep.
Snoring, sleepiness and sleep apnoea consultation
The initial consultation is with a Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon, as the cause of snoring and sleep apnoea is always found in the nose or throat.
A full history will be taken, your Epworth Sleepiness Score will be measured, as will your body mass index (BMI). Nose, throat and neck examination will be carried out, as will flexible endoscopy and the Muller manoeuvre. At this stage your doctor will have a pretty good idea as to what is causing your snoring / apnoea problem.
You will be advised as to what is the correct treatment for the cause of your problem, which may involve a number of different treatments: Nose unlocking surgery, tonsil reduction, palatoplasty, mandibular advancement device, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure ventilation), weight loss, allergy testing etc.
A sleep study using overnight oximetry at home may be required pre and post treatment, to analyse the extent of any sleep apnoea, and to make sure treatment has been effective. This costs £450.
Laser removal of snoring problems
How can laser treatment alleviate snoring?
The treatment of snoring is naturally focused on the cause of the problem – factors in the airway that precipitate obstruction to the breathing tube, and high velocity, turbulent, noisy breathing. The main procedures for this include nose unblocking surgery, laser palatal surgery and laser tonsillectomy or laser tonsillotomy.
Weight loss can be vital in those whose body mass index is high. Always bear this in mind that it may be part of your treatment plan, without it any other treatment may be less effective.
Mandibular advancement devices are common adjuncts to surgery, as they also work by unblocking the airway at the back of the tongue. You need good strong teeth for this, and a good orthodontists or someone very experienced in making them, as they are a real art. Mike Dilkes often starts with a Blue Pro device which is an adjustable plastic splint he can make himself. It is relatively cheap (£400), and gives a good idea as to whether a more expensive device will be tolerated and will be effective.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Ventilation is usually reserved for those who cannot tolerate surgery or a mandibular advancement device, and cannot lose weight. It involves having a ventilation mask strapped down tightly over the nose +/- mouth. This is connected to a ventilator which forces air into the lungs over a net positive pressure baseline. Very effective but often uncomfortable and the noise of the ventilator can keep patient and bed partner awake.
The treatment of snoring is usually multi-disciplinary - it means sometimes patients need more than one intervention - for example, nose unblocking surgery and a mandibular advancement device are often part of the same treatment plan.
Procedures performed to alleviate snoring:
1) Palatal surgery (LAUP) - laser palatoplasty
Going out of fashion somewhat, I still occasionally perform this operation, almost always under local anaesthetic. It certainly helps snorers, it can also help in mild cases of sleep apnoea. Scientific evidence based on observation of the airway and correlation with sound analysis of the patient’s snoring suggests that if snoring is of a low pitched, rumbling nature, it comes from the soft palate area. LAUP effectively takes away the vibrating part of the airway responsible for a large proportion of the snoring sound, and causes scar tissue to build up, meaning the palate is stiffer and less likely to vibrate. Under local anaesthetic, this procedure costs £1,500.
2) Nose unblocking
Click here for nose unblocking information.
3) Tonsil reduction / tonsillectomy (laser)
Click here for laser tonsillectomy information.
Snoring & Sleep FAQs
Snoring, daytime tiredness and sleep apnoea are common problems - becoming more severe with age and weight. We provide a range of laser snoring treatments to reduce snoring and manage sleep apnoea. Use this page to assess sleep issues faced by yourself and your family, understand what causes snoring and measure your level of sleepiness.
Sleep apnoea means stopping breathing when asleep. Clearly this can be potentially life threatening if you stop breathing for long enough - brain death occurs after 3 minutes. In practice, this doesn't actually happen, but prolonged periods of low oxygen levels are the results, and this in itself can be serious.
It may be time for you to take advise and action on snoring. If so, look at the treatments we provide for snoring, sleepiness and sleep apnoea. and find out more about snoring questions on our Snoring FAQ page.
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Snoring Treatment Fees
Laser Palatoplasty for Snoring
Initial consultation, endoscopy and laser palatoplasty under local anaesthetic, plus one post-op follow up office visit: £1,500
Want to know more? Contact us about Snoring Treatments.