If you are overweight, weight reduction may improve your snoring or sleep apnea. Weight gain deposits fat into and around the soft palate, tongue and neck structures consequently reducing the size of the airway.Â Weight loss can reduce these fat deposits and enlarge the airway size thereby reducing snoring as well as sleep apnea.
Elevating the head of your bed and avoiding sleeping on your back may be helpful.
Avoid drugs and habits that cause airway narrowing
Alcohol and most sleeping pills relax the muscles of the throat and can worsen snoring and sleep apnea. You should avoid alcohol for at leastÂ three hours prior to bedtime. Smoking can also worsen snoring and sleep apnea, due to swelling of the nasal tissues.
Surgery is not a common treatment for snoring and sleep apnea.
For snoring, surgery of the soft palate has been an option in the past. This involves trimming and tightening of soft tissues in the throat. Post-operatively it is usually associated with severe pain and studies show that it is only 30-50% effective in stopping snoring.Â The sideâ€“effects can include altered tone of voice and regurgitation of food. For these reasons surgery is now a seldom used treatment for snoring. It is not a preferred treatment for snoring by sleep physicians in Australia.
It is also important to understand that soft palate surgery only targets snoring – it is not a treatment for sleep apnea.
For sleep apnea surgery is rarely used as the side effects can be significant. Surgical treatments can include jaw advancement and tongue reduction surgery.Â Weight Reduction Surgery can be very beneficial where significant obesity is assessed to be an important factor for the sleep apnea.
In summary, the established treatments for sleep apnea used by qualified physicians are dental sleep appliances, CPAP and lifestyle changes.
Unproven and ineffective treatments
There are other treatments offered on the internet and in stores which include nasal strips, sprays, pillows, rings and the buteyko breathing technique. These methods are unproven and generally regarded as ineffective, with some being the subject of ACCC investigations. These treatments are not recommended by sleep physicians.
This is another unproven remedy for snoring and sleep apnea.Â It involves breathing retraining from breathing through the mouth to breathing through the nose. There is no available scientific evidence demonstrating that this method is effective in treating either snoring or sleep apnea. This treatment is not being recommended by sleep physicians. There is a general concern that this treatment is being advocated for potentially serious conditions such as sleep apnea and snoring as an alternative to safe, proven treatments.
The Queen Victoria Sleep Studies Unit (QVSSU) in England conducted trials and published a report on the effectiveness of anti-snoring aids such as nasal strips, pillows, sprays and surgery.
The QVSSU verdict is that they give a subjective feeling that the nose is clearer and may help if the nostrils are small, but overall their efficacy is not impressive and they are of limited value.
QVSSU reports that the theory underlying their use is good however in practice the pillows are not really effective
Choice magazine reviewed most of the â€śover the counter treatmentsâ€ť for snoring. This review was conducted by a team, which included sleep physicians, and concluded that these treatments were unproven and mostly ineffective. The treatments included sprays, medications and pillows.
While weight loss andÂ avoiding, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol prior to sleep can be very helpful, dental sleep appliances remain the gold standard for immediate elimination of snoring.
A consultation at SleepWise Clinic is a great opportunity for an assessment and to see the latest, state of the art, treatment options.