An ear, nose, and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) may examine the throat, neck, and inside of the mouth to diagnose the cause of snoring. You're likely to see your family doctor or a family doctor first. However, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating sleep disorders. An otolaryngologist will first examine the airways for signs of a physical obstruction.
For some people, prescription medications may help relieve snoring and sleep apnea. Others may find relief with sleep apnea masks or a surgical procedure. Those who snore heavily, those who snore in any position or are annoying to the family, should consult a doctor to make sure that sleep apnea is not a problem. An otolaryngologist will perform a thorough examination of the nose, mouth, throat, palate, and neck.
A sleep study may be necessary in a laboratory setting to determine the severity of snoring and the health effects of snoring. There is no easy way to distinguish between the two, so if you or a loved one is snoring, talk to your doctor if you should be tested for sleep apnea. Your doctor may ask your partner some questions about when and how you snore to help assess the severity of the problem. Rather, there seems to be a “set point” for each individual, so that if you are above this weight you will snore, and below it you will not.
Some devices reposition the lower jaw forward; some open the nasal airways; others have been designed to condition a person not to snore by producing stimuli when snoring occurs. People with loud snoring who constantly snore in any position or who have a negative impact on the sleep of a bedmate should see a doctor to make sure that sleep apnea is not a problem. Forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. Some are variations on the old idea of sewing a sock that holds a tennis ball on the back of pajamas to force the snorer to sleep on his side.
Because the snorer does not rest well, he may be sleepy during the day, which impairs work performance and makes him a driver or operator of dangerous equipment. Because the snorer does not rest well, he may be sleepy during the day, which decreases his performance. The immediate effect of sleep apnea is that the snorer should sleep lightly and keep his muscles tense to maintain airflow to the lungs. About 40% of men and about 30% of women snore from time to time, and about 15% of the total population snore more frequently during the week1.