Dr. Cohen’s Corner: Will Fixing a Deviated Septum Stop Loud Snoring?
If you or your partner is a loud snorer, the culprit may be a deviated septum, but will fixing it stop problems of loud snoring? It depends. More than 80% of people in the U.S. may be living with a deviated septum and not know it, and snoring is a common symptom of a deviated septum. Sometimes fixing a deviated septum can resolve snoring issues, but sometimes it may be a little more complicated.
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Loud Snoring
Loud snoring is the most common sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder in which your breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. OSA and severe snoring disrupt your sleep cycle and may leave you feeling drowsy, moody, and prone to headaches. Long-term, people with chronic sleep deprivation have elevated risks for diabetes, stroke, heart disease and dementia.
Can a Deviated Septum Cause Snoring?
Yes—a deviated septum can cause snoring. The septum is the dividing wall made of bone and cartilage between your two nasal passages. The septum can become deviated when it is displaced to one side or another, causing one nasal passage to be more narrow than the other. The septum can even deviate in an S-shape, causing obstruction in both nasal passages.
A deviated septum can be the result of trauma to the nose, but it’s often present at birth. Because of the airflow obstruction, a deviated septum can make obstructive sleep apnea worse or can cause loud snoring all on its own.
What Are the Signs of a Deviated Septum?
The only way to get a proper diagnosis for a deviated septum is to have a consultation with a trusted Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist like Dr. Alen Cohen at the Southern California Sinus Institute. A Los Angeles-based sinus specialist, Alen N. Cohen, M.D., F.A.C.S., is a Board-Certified ENT/Head and Neck Surgeon and renowned expert in nasal and sinus surgery.
If you live with loud snoring, some additional signs you may have a deviated septum include:
- Frequent sinus infections
- General feeling of nostril/nasal obstruction
- A tendency to sleep on one side instead of the other for ease of breathing
- Loud breathing
- Dry mouth
- Postnasal drip
- Frequent headaches
How Repairing a Deviated Septum Can Stop Loud Snoring
Fixing a deviated septum is done with a common procedure called a septoplasty. Small incisions are made inside the nose, so that there’s no visible scarring in the face. The deviated portions are cartilage and bone can be straightened or removed by the surgeon. By fixing the deviation and opening up the nasal passages for better airflow, many people find relief from their snoring problems. If the cause of snoring is more than just a deviated septum, however, additional treatments may be necessary.
What Other Treatments Can Help Snoring?
Sometimes a deviated septum may be only one cause of loud snoring, or may not be the cause at all. The best way to determine the cause of snoring so that you can get the proper treatment is to visit a trusted expert like Dr. Cohen.
Dr. Cohen can conduct a full evaluation to determine the origin of loud snoring and recommend a variety of treatment options. Depending on the cause, a procedure other than, or in addition to, a septoplasty may be recommended.
Procedures to reduce loud snoring usually focus on one or more of the following:
- Relieving nasal or sinus obstruction
- Relieving upper throat collapse
- Addressing uvula and soft palate floppiness
- Addressing issues of the lower throat, along the tongue base, or pharynx
Some patients whose cause of loud snoring is in the lower throat may be referred to an oral surgeon for advanced jaw surgery. At the Southern California Sinus Institute, we can treat other causes, including upper throat causes and causes that originate in the nasal or sinus area.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Procedures
When snoring has more than one cause, several surgeries can be combined into a single procedure to address it. For snoring and mild sleep apnea, Dr. Cohen often performs these procedures in addition to septoplasty:
- Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)
- Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UP3/UPPP)
- Tongue base reduction
- Submucous resection of inferior turbinates
- Nasal Valve Repair
- Balloon Sinuplasty
In this in-office procedure, a small part of the soft palate that contains the uvula is removed with a cold laser or radiofrequency energy, also called coblation. This technique leaves patients with less discomfort and a faster healing time than past techniques did. In some patients, the surgery can be combined with a balloon sinuplasty and/or submucous resection of the turbinates.
Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
Children under the age of 13 and some young adults who suffer from severe snoring and obstructive sleep apnea have enlarged adenoids and tonsils. After a full evaluation, an adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy may be recommended. Addressing the root cause of snoring and ensuring adequate sleep is essential for children and young adults, as sleep is especially important for growth and brain development.
The uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is the oldest and most common procedure to treat obstructive sleep apnea. It combines several techniques, including a tonsillectomy, reorientation of the anterior and posterior tonsillar pillars, and excision of the uvula and posterior rim of the soft palate. This procedure is invasive and requires general anesthesia, but is the best option for some patients with severe sleep apnea.
Tongue base reduction
Often combined with other procedures, the goal is to shrink several parts of the base of the tongue, to reduce its bulk and relieve symptoms of sleep apnea. This technique uses a coblation wand to apply radiofrequency energy to targeted areas.
Submucous resection of inferior turbinates
There are different kinds of turbinate surgery. Dr. Cohen performs a definitive procedure named submucous resection of the turbinates. This procedure takes place under local anesthesia in under 10 minutes in the office and provides permanent relief. During this procedure the bone expanding the turbinates on the inside is shaved down to allow for significant long-term reduction in the size of the turbinates. By itself or combined with deviated septum repair, it can drastically improve nasal obstruction and improve loud snoring.
Balloon Sinuplasty and Nasal Valve Repair may also at times be peformed by Dr. Cohen to address nasal congestion that contributes to chronic snoring and mouth breathing.
Why Choose the Southern California Sinus Institute?
Loud snoring isn’t just a nuisance—it can have a real, lasting effect on your health. Dr. Cohen has helped thousands of patients with deviated septums and other sinus, nasal, and throat problems that cause loud snoring.
Contact us today for an appointment to address your snoring problem.