Updated: Apr 17
Snoring is the stuff of legends, comedic legends, especially those that can mimic the infinite variety of snoring sounds. In some cultures, snoring is even considered normal. However, scientific data suggests that it is not innocuous but can have health hazards as well. Besides causing disruption in the partner's sleep and friction in otherwise happy couples, snoring may be a harbinger of obstructive sleep apnea.
WHAT IS SNORING AND WHERE DO THE SOUNDS COME FROM?
Snoring is an audible vibratory sound emanating predominantly from the throat and sometimes the nose. During sleep, especially in the supine position or when we are laying on our backs, the tongue and the soft palate lose their muscle tone and become a lot more relaxed. Due to the force of gravity and the negative pressure created during inspiration, the back of the tongue (also called the tongue base), the tonsils, and the soft palate especially the uvula, vibrate against the back wall of the throat producing sound.
In individuals that have more fatty tissue in the neck, big tonsils, or a neck circumference greater than 16 inches and a BMI of greater than 35, the risk of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is much higher. Snoring is worse in individuals that have a stuffy nose from sinusitis, allergies, deviation of the septum. Enlargement of inferior turbinates or the lower shelves of bone in the nose from weather changes, allergies, rhinitis, chemical fumes causes nasal obstruction and may be responsible for much of the snoring as well. Nasal steroid sprays can improve this congestion.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF SNORING OR SLEEP APNEA?
There is some data that snoring itself could cause heart issues over time but the most important reason for getting a workup done for snoring is to make sure that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is not present. Obstructive sleep apnea is when the individual stops breathing more than 5 times/hour at night due to blockage in the throat area and then wakes up gasping or gasps at the end of the stoppage in breathing.
OSA, especially moderate to severe sleep apnea, is a huge health concern because it increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, sudden death, and stroke by as much as 5-7 times normal. Not only that, the lack of sleep associated with loud snoring and sleep apnea, results in daytime sleepiness and fatigue increases the risk of accidents either at work or during driving.
Have snoring problems and need relief NOW? Same day and next day appointments available! Call (832) 990-2700 or click here to request an appointment online.
An appointment with Dr. Khetarpal is to see a doctor, not a nurse.
DOC, HOW DO I FIX MY SPOUSE’S SNORING?
A sleep study is necessary to rule out sleep apnea and once sleep apnea is ruled out, the following snoring remedies or procedures may be of benefit. Of course, allergy management is important and testing with immunotherapy may be necessary if there is associated allergic rhinitis. The in-office procedures include nasal valve surgery, septal deviation correction, reduction in the size of the turbinates, soft palate procedures, and removing a small part of the uvula or radiofrequency treatment of the soft palate or the tongue to stiffen them and reduce vibrations, and oral appliance therapy among others. With today’s technology, there is no reason to delay treatment of snoring. Texas Sinus, Allergy, Snoring and Sleep Institute was developed to offer a variety of state-of-the-art options to improve your snoring and address your allergy, sinus and sleep apnea concerns.
UMANG KHETARPAL, M.D.
Dr. Umang Khetarpal finished his medical school at the young age of 22 and is trained in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck and Facial Plastic Surgery. He completed his internship and specialty residency training in Syracuse, New York. He also has extensive research experience and additional clinical experience through fellowships at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston. He has co-authored book chapters and many publications in peer-reviewed journals within the specialty. He has presented at major specialty society meetings and at academic institutions. Topics of his research included hearing loss and balance disorders, sinus problems, and sleep apnea. His recent research efforts have been entirely focused on sinusitis, especially recurrent acute rhinosinusitis, allergies and in-office balloon sinuplasty, and in-office sinus surgery. He has recently presented five papers at the International meeting of Rhinology in Chicago, in June 2019. He discovered and was the first to describe a novel ear disease in families that resulted in balance and hearing problems. His most innovative research was in the cutting-edge field of genetics in Otolaryngology where he was involved in finding the genetic defects for several different diseases. In addition, he has taken time to observe the surgical techniques of some of the world’s most renowned surgeons in plastics surgery. He had been featured 3 times over the years in newspapers in the Rio Grande Valley for introducing the latest treatments in thyroid cancer, sleep apnea, and sinus surgery locally. His current interest is in molecular genetics of allergic rhinitis and chronic sinusitis with and without polyps and in finding better cures for these conditions. He now calls Houston his home and is starting his practice in the Woodlands.