Snoring keeping you awake at night? Mr Showkat Mirza answers the FAQs...
Mr Showkat Mirza, Consultant Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) Surgeon
Claremont Clinics: Saturday AM
What types of snoring are there?
Snoring ranges from simple snoring (noisy breathing but the oxygen levels of the body are not affected) to obstructive sleep apnoea (noisy breathing and the oxygen levels of the body are reduced at times).
How are patients with problem snoring assessed?
A medical history is taken including information about their snoring, degree of daytime tiredness and factors such as smoking, alcohol intake current medications. Examination includes the patient’s weight, head anatomy, tonsil and tongue size and often a flexible endoscopy is performed to assess the nasal airway, soft palate, throat and tongue base.
What medical investigations are performed?
Sometimes, depending on the symptoms and examination findings, blood tests may be performed including allergy testing. A CT scan of the nose and sinuses can also be performed to assess the nasal airway and if obstructive sleep apnoea is suspected, a sleep study is undertaken.
What are the non-surgical treatment options?
Weight loss, stopping smoking and cutting down alcohol is a great start. Sometimes it may be worth trying a mandibular advancement splint which is like a mouthguard, worn during sleep moving the lower jaw and tongue forward making more space in the throat for breathing, thereby reducing snoring.
Are there surgical options?
If the nose is blocked at night, nasal surgery may help improve nasal breathing and snoring. If the tonsils are enlarged, removing them may help with the snoring. Commonly, a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is performed which includes removing the tonsils, the uvula (dangly bit in the midline) and possibly some of the tissue around the tonsils and soft palate. In addition, radiofrequency treatment to the soft palate and tongue base can be done on its own or with the above. This entails delivering energy via a probe that causes tissue shrinkage, scarring and stiffening that can help with snoring at the palate and tongue base level.
Is snoring surgery painful?
Depending on what surgery is performed the pain can range from mild to moderately severe. Most patients can go home the same day from the point of view of pain but may need to stay in hospital for 1 night for observation if they have, for example, tongue base surgery or obstructive sleep apnoea. Patients are discharged with simple painkillers.
What are the risks and complications of this type of surgery?
The main complication of snoring surgery is bleeding but this is usually minimal and settles down. Rarely, patients need to go back to theatre for bleeding after surgery. Depending on the type of surgery there are other risks and complications which will be fully explained to any patients considering surgical treatment options.
How much time will I have to take off work?
For most snoring operations, it is recommended that 2 weeks are taken off but this is variable and depends on a number of factors including patient fitness/motivation, type of work and extent of surgery.
Will surgery cure my snoring?
It is difficult to know for sure if snoring will improve with surgery but for example, if a patient is not overweight and has large tonsils and a bulky uvula, a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty has a good success rate. However, there is no guarantee the snoring will stop. In addition, some patients initially have a good result after surgery but their snoring can return, possibly due to weight gain.
Every patient is different and usually, snoring can be improved using some/all of the above treatments.
A private consultation with Mr Mirza at Claremont is £150 if you don't have health insurance. To book an appointment, call our friendly Private Patient Team on 0114 263 2114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will need a referral letter from your GP or you can see one of our Private GPs if you prefer.
Copyright Showkat Mirza, 2016.