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Snoring – A Possible Sign of a More Serious Issue

Consistent and restful sleep is an imperative part of our lives. We all go to bed hoping to wake up and feel re-energized for the next day. Unfortunately, for some, snoring and restless sleep in general can keep us from feeling well rested during the day. If you are constantly tired during the day despite sleeping 7-8 hours every night or if you snore loudly throughout the night you may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when your breathing is interrupted during sleep causing your brain and the rest of your body to not get enough oxygen during the night. This can lead to short-term and potentially more serious long-term issues if left untreated.


The most common symptom is feeling tired throughout the day and often dozing off at work or school. Other symptoms include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Choking or gasping episodes
  • Waking up with dry mouth or sore throat
  • Restless sleep
  • Untreated sleep apnea can have more serious long term consequences, and thus, it is important to figure out if you have this issue. Longer term complications include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Diagnosis

    The gold standard technique for determining if you have sleep apnea is a sleep study. During this study you are hooked up to monitors that record different vital signs and physical activities while you sleep. While ideally done in a sleep lab overnight, this sleep study can also be done at home in some instances. Activities being measured include:

  • Brain wave activity (EEG)
  • Leg and eye movements
  • Heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Muscle activity
  • Snoring sound
  • Treatment

    Conservative measures are usually the first step in treating sleep apnea once it is confirmed with a sleep study. These include:

  • Weight loss
  • Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills
  • Changing sleeping positions (such as sleeping on your side) to improve breathing
  • Stop smoking
  • The next step in treatment usually involves a CPAP machine and/or a dental device. CPAP is the most common and often the most effective treatment for sleep apnea and involves wearing a mask that is hooked up to a machine while you sleep. The machine helps to keep your airway open while you are sleeping to help you avoid episodes of apnea.

    Dental devices can also be used to help keep your airway open while you sleep. If a dental device is right for you, we can actually provide you with them right here in our office.

    Finally, the last option, which is usually only utilized if the conservative measures discussed above are not sufficient, is surgery. There are several different types of surgery used for sleep apnea all of which attempt to increase the size of your airway.

    With all these options it may be difficult to decide which treatment strategy is best for you. By meeting with an ear, nose and throat specialist here at Southern California Head & Neck Medical Group, we can help guide you through what the next steps might be.

    Call our office today for more information. We look forward to caring for you.

    By: Abbas Anwar, MD