For patients who snore but don’t have obstructive sleep apnea, they could be suffering from issues in the nose—and there are treatment options that help avoid surgery.
Patients who snore may assume the cause is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). But when a patient’s home or in-lab test comes back without evidence of OSA, patients can be frustrated and wonder what the cause of their snoring really is. Primary snoring, or simple snoring, due to nasal obstruction or inflammation may be the answer to that question. For people who do not have sleep apnea but want treatment for their snoring, noninvasive options are available to assist with nasal breathing.
Raj C. Dedhia, MD, MSCR, assistant professor, otolaryngology/HNS & sleep medicine at Emory University Hospital Midtown, says there are two types of reasons for poor nasal breathing: structural and inflammatory. “Structural causes include things like septal deviation. Inflammatory causes are usually things like allergies and other environmental factors.”
So how does nasal breathing relate to snoring? Dedhia says breathing through your nose is actually the optimal way to breathe during sleep. “Mouth breathing has a couple problematic effects on the course of the airflow,” he says. “When you breathe through your mouth, your jaw tends to fall back, which causes your tongue to fall back, and even your palates are relaxed more. That combo makes it more likely for the patient to have an obstruction. When the airflow goes through the mouth and hits that back wall, there isn’t a smooth transition like there is in the back of the nose. So there’s more turbulence that can generate snoring sounds.”
Nicholas A. Michalak, co-founder and CEO of SomniFix, maker of mouth strips that keep the mouth closed and promote nasal breathing, says, “We generally do a snore test to help people determine where their snores originate. You can do it quite easily. In a comfortable, reclined sleeping position, try to create a snore noise with your mouth open. Then close your mouth and try to create the same snore noise. If you are only able to snore with an…