Otolaryngologists should educate snorers about possible health implications as they work to find solutions
Careful Assessment Is Key to Appropriate Treatment
Because at least 50% of snorers have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), most otolaryngologists recommend an overnight sleep study for all patients who complain of snoring. If the study confirms the presence of sleep apnea, the patient is treated for sleep apnea. If OSA is ruled out, a careful history and physical exam are conducted to identify the anatomical sites that may be contributing to snoring.
“In the past, we used to think that all snoring came from the uvula and soft palate, so that’s where a lot of treatments were focused,” Dr. Gillespie said. “Now, through the use of drug-induced sleep endoscopy and observation of the airway in real time, we realize that there are multiple areas of vibration in the upper airway that can create the snoring sound, including the soft palate, the uvula, the lateral walls of the throat, tongue tissues, and epiglottis. Certainly, nasal congestion and a tight nasal cavity can also contribute. Our goal is to find which sites are contributing and try to treat those.”