New ideas to help prevent snoring

May 17, 2012 8:01:20 AM PDT
You're in bed, ready for a good night's sleep and then it starts, the snoring.

It's can be infuriating if you're the one hearing it, and dangerous if you're the one doing it. So we have the latest and greatest options to stop the snoring.

Jennifer Garrison is sick of hearing her husband, Kirt, snore.

"It wakes me up in the middle of the night and I even use earplugs and the earplugs sometimes don't even work," she said.

Kirt feels badly about it.

"I just feel sorry for her because I'm getting good sleep," he said.

He's even banished himself to the sofa but finally Jennifer had had enough and sent Kirt to see a doctor.

"I feel like a marriage counselor sometimes," said Dr. Paul Fulmer with The Snoring Center.

Dr. Fulmer suggested the pillar procedure. He put five tiny implants in the back of Kirt's throat to cause scarring, which stiffens the palate.

"In the next few weeks to months, the palate gets stiffer, quits vibrating and gets rid of the snoring," Dr. Fulmer said.

It's just one of several cutting-edge options. But the problem with all of them is...

"The success rates are still dismal. You really don't get above 50 or 60 percent," said Dr. Michael Byrd with Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital.

What does almost always work for snoring? The CPAP breathing machine. It's an air-flow mask you sleep with every night.

But there's a catch.

It's only for people diagnosed with sleep apnea. Jack LeClair is one of them.

"Let's just say that my ribs don't hurt anymore after getting the machine, because I don't get the elbow anymore," LeClair said.

Not only did the mask stop his snoring, it helped him lose weight!

"Over the eight months I've been using it, I've actually lost some weight and they say that has something to do with the machine as well," he said.

LeClair lost 15 pounds in eight months just by sleeping better. Medical studies show disrupted sleep causes you to burn calories slower. It also makes you more likely to have a stroke or heart attack.

To diagnose sleep apnea, you need to start with an overnight stay in a sleep lab like this one. But now there's something new. There's a home sleep test. And many people are more comfortable at home this is also cheaper.

"That's the part that will go in your nostril," registered respiratory therapist Cesar Garza said.

And here's something brand new that's supposed to work like CPAP, only without the machine: Provent nostril plugs. The back pressure keeps his airway open, but Eddie Benavidez says it felt strange.

"Just a little difficult breathing out, just the exhaling part. The inhaling was very easy," Benavidez said.

UTHealth Dr. Grant Fowler, too, has been disappointed by the rise and fall of snoring treatments.

"I'm under whelmed, none of them I think have complete success," he said.

He says start by trying a simple solution, like a $2 boil-and-bite sports mouth guard.

"I've had some success with patients with that," Dr. Fowler said.

Try sleeping on your side, and maybe a combination of things will help.

"When all else fails, they make very good silicone ear plugs," Dr. Fowler said.

After all, just sealing out a few decibels can lower the stress on a marriage.

"Happy wife, happy life," Kirt said.

As for Kirt's pillar procedure, the Garrisons say it helped, some. But Jennifer's not throwing away the ear plugs just yet.

So as you go to bed tonight, you know there is hope! Our ideas range from $2 to thousands of dollars. Now, it's up to the "snorer" in your family to give one a try!


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