Medicine can help prevent or reduce snoring when it is caused by nasal congestion. Nasal congestion is usually caused by colds or allergies. Medicine may open the nasal passageway, permitting a smoother airflow and reducing snoring. Decongestants and inhaled corticosteroids both reduce nasal congestion. Inhaled decongestants are short-term treatment only and cannot be used long term.
Surgery for snoring is rarely used and only considered in cases of very severe snoring when other treatments have failed.
Surgery is used to:
- Remove excess soft tissue from the throat to widen the upper airway. This may involve removing the tonsils and adenoids and other tissues in the back of the throat (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty).
- Correct an abnormally shaped wall (septum) between the nostrils or remove nasal polyps that block airflow through the nose.
- Change the position of the bony structures in the upper airway, allowing air to flow more freely, especially during sleep. More than one surgery may be needed to make these changes.
- Implant plastic cylinders in the soft palate to stiffen it to prevent it from vibrating. This can reduce snoring and the daytime sleepiness it causes.4
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty removes excess tissue in the throat, widening the airway and leading to a smoother airflow. This may reduce snoring.
- Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty uses a laser to remove excess tissue in the throat.
- Radiofrequency palatoplasty is a procedure that uses an electrical current to shrink and stiffen the back part of the roof of the mouth (soft palate and uvula). When the soft palate and uvula are stiffer, they are less likely to vibrate, and you are less likely to snore.
- Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be used if you have enlarged tonsils and adenoids that are blocking your airway during sleep.
- Nasal septoplasty repairs and straightens the bone and tissues (septum) separating the two passages in the nose. This procedure is done if a nasal deformity interferes with breathing.
- Nasal polypectomy removes soft, round tissues (polyps) that can project into the nasal passages.
- Implanting plastic cylinders into the soft palate can stiffen it and help prevent it from vibrating.4
What To Think About
Surgery is rarely used to treat snoring. It may not completely cure snoring, and the risks of surgery may not be worth the small benefit you gain.
Snoring is not always considered a medical problem, so insurance may not cover treatment.