Snoring is the sound of the soft tissue at the back of your throat vibrating as you breathe. Relaxed tissue tends to be softer and more pliable than when you are awake, and therefore you only snore while you’re asleep. Snoring treatment options at our Melbourne clinic include lasers or radiofrequency devices that tighten and reduce this tissue in the upper palate, and over several anti-snoring treatments, stop snoring.
Snoring can be triggered by the impacts of some medications, alcohol, smoking, illness and nasal growths or obstructions (like polyps). Being overweight can also heavily contribute to snoring.
Laser snoring treatments
There are several laser snoring treatment devices used to reduce or stop snoring, including the SleepTight laser treatment and Romeo laser snoring treatments. The SleepTight laser treatment for snoring was featured on A Current Affair, with high profile NRL star Mark Geyer explaining that he had ‘almost immediate results’. The Romeo laser and the SleepTight laser snoring treatment work in the same way to tighten soft palate tissue and stop snoring. At ENRICH Clinic in Melbourne, we prefer to use the Romeo laser.
The negative impacts of snoring
We most often talk about snoring in joking terms, but anyone who’s had to sleep next to a snorer for any period knows just how destructive snoring is to a good night’s sleep. This applies to the snorer too, since their airway is being obstructed and therefore it’s not just the noise that’s disturbing; it’s the whole snoring process.
Snorers may find themselves increasingly tired, with a restful night’s sleep always a little out of reach. Waking up feeling less than refreshed could be a sign that your sleep is not as deep and rejuvenating as it might be.
Specific causes of snoring in adults
There are several different causes of snoring, with your snoring possibly being one or more of these factors.
- Nose anatomy and nasal blockage: When your airways are blocked, you will make a snoring sound. This could be temporary (allergies, infections) or more serious/permanent nostril size, shape or anatomical abnormalities.
- Low tone in the tongue and throat muscles: your mouth and throat are made up partially of muscles, and if these muscles relax too much, they can collapse your airways, which results in snoring. Muscle relaxation can occur temporarily from alcohol or insomnia medication, and from general tissue laxity as occurs as we age.
- Excess throat tissue: If you are overweight, you likely have excess fat around your neck and this can lead to extra pressure on your airways during sleep. Standing upright and lying down are very different things when it comes to gravity. Oversized tonsils or adenoids can also become an issue, though typically only temporarily.
- Loose uvula and soft palate: the soft palate and possibly the uvula (the dangly bit at the back of your throat) can be too soft, narrowing the airway and causing snoring due to contact of the uvula on the throat and soft palate.
Women and snoring
Women who snore are being treated at alarmingly low rates. This is not because women don’t snore – they do – but because they tend to snore more softly than men due to the different size and shape of the neck and neck tissue. Women’s snoring is typically overlooked and not considered problem snoring, but indeed having sometimes very negative consequences. Being tired all the time has far-reaching consequences for a body and mind in either gender.
Men and snoring
Men tend to snore louder and more frequently than women or children due to the size, shape and weight of the neck area. The more tissue that relaxes onto the trachea during sleep, the bigger the snore and the greater the obstruction. This results in greater negative impacts during waking hours.
Children and snoring
Children snoring may sound cute, but it’s almost always a sign of an infection or an airway issue that needs addressing with some urgency. Soft or loud, persistent, regular snoring in children needs to be investigated, since it is abnormal – the tissue around the neck and throat in kids is small and tight, meaning that snoring is coming from unusual causes or tissue formations. This could mean the tonsils or other areas need treatment.
Snoring in children can also be isolated to certain normal events, such as colds and flu, ear infections and sinus issues.
Radiofrequency and laser snoring treatments
We use radiofrequency and laser treatments for snoring, with our SnoreLess program. The aim of the anti-snoring treatments is to reduce the tissue volume while tightening the soft palate. Over the course of a few treatments, this effectively reduces or eliminates snoring.
Who does snoring affect?
Snoring affects over 60 per cent of us, but is more common in men than women. Snoring also gets worse as we age, due to tissue laxity.
Nasal obstructions and snoring
The structure and inter-dependencies of the mouth, nose and throat are complex, since our respiratory tract, mouth and facial structures have a lot of demands laid upon them every day for vital functions: breathing, eating, talking and facial expressions.
Nasal obstructions might include polyps, a deviated septum, chronic sinusitis or nasal congestion. Nasal congestion has been implicated in snoring, causing daytime sleepiness and an increase in snoring. This obstruction has a negative effect on the sleep cycle, since it can elongate the time between REM sleep and increase non-REM sleep. These obstructions alone, however, do not cause sleep apnoea. The size of the tongue may contribute to obstructive sleep apnoea, but other ideas include muscle responses of the mouth and jaw.
Obstructive sleep apnoea
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a more serious condition than just snoring alone whereby a person stops breathing during sleep, then restarts spontaneously. This leaves us without oxygen for a short period of time, causing a specific reaction in the body to get us breathing again. Sleep apnoea is treated differently to snoring, and must be investigated and ruled out by any snorer.
Laser snoring treatment with the Romeo laser – Melbourne Clinic
The Romeo laser targets the soft palate and uvula, heating this tissue very carefully and precisely to tighten it. This reduces the vibration and snoring.
Prior to this treatment, investigations will need to be made into the nature of your snoring, which might include sleep studies to rule out obstructive sleep apnoea.
The Romeo laser treatments for snoring at our Melbourne clinic take about half an hour, with no downtime – return to work immediately after if you wish. That night snoring may be worse, which is normal – soon you will feel the difference, since the treatments exert their effect over time to tighten tissue. You should avoid food and drink for two hours prior to your treatment, and have no cold food or drinks for 48 hours. We also sometimes recommend no exercise the day before and of your snoring laser surgery.
After laser snoring treatments – Melbourne clinic
Your throat might feel dry, scratchy or swollen after your snoring laser treatments. This is completely normal and will dissipate within 24-48 hours. You may take over-the-counter pain relief if required. There are rarely any negative impacts or side-effects from this snoring treatment. An example of a problematic outcome would be swelling of the throat which could impact breathing and needs immediately medical attention. Though very rare, any uncontrolled swelling is dangerous when it concerns the throat.
After about a week, snoring starts to improve, with another snoring laser treatment performed a month later, and maintenance treatments may be required annually or bi-annually. Snoring can usually be improved by about 60 per cent, though it must be stressed that this is not a cure for snoring, but a management technique. Each of you has your own nasal and throat structures, so individual results will be somewhat varied.
The research into laser snoring treatments
A pilot study into reducing snoring and sleep apnoea using lasers found that the laser snoring treatments were effective and very well tolerated by patients. Responses were quite variable, but overall the treatment was considered successful. All patients reported an improvement in sleep quality as well as snoring, with high satisfaction levels reported. All patients reported the anti-snoring laser treatments were virtually painless.
Another snoring study looked at resolving or managing snoring in 21 people, using three anti-snoring laser treatments. Patients evaluated the average snoring reduction after the first session to be between 30 and 60 per cent and between 50-90 per cent after the second session.
A Polish study found that 74 per cent of patients responded favourably to the anti-snoring treatment, with an average improvement in snoring severity of about 50 per cent. The laser under study was found to be ‘effective, minimally invasive and safe’ for treating snoring.
The efficacy of laser snoring treatments and radiofrequency devices is now well-established, and while the techniques are evolving, we have a good basis for anti-snoring laser treatment that is safe, effective, and best of all, fast and comfortable.