Patients commonly ask us if balloon sinuplasty can help them to achieve pure sleep. Their spouses ask us if balloon sinuplasty can cure snoring. The answer is a resounding ‘maybe’.
Balloon sinuplasty is an office procedure performed to relieve symptoms of chronic or recurrent sinusitis that have become disruptive to the daily lives of sinus sufferers. It is in general a quick, minimally invasive, minimal downtime procedure that has literally changed the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of sinus sufferers. Many sinus sufferers list snoring and airway obstruction as part of their symptom complex.
This is where the question of pure sleep gets tricky. There are many different factors involved in achieving pure sleep. We will limit our discussion to sleep disordered breathing or ‘snoring.’ Snoring is a sign of airway obstruction. Typically, the area of obstruction is in the back of the throat where the soft palate and uvula are located. The uvula is the structure hanging down in the back of the throat that you can see if you take a flashlight and look in a mirror. In patients with a narrow throat, the uvula can produce vibrations that if loud enough are heard as snoring. When the obstruction gets bad enough, clinical obstructive sleep apnea can occur.
Nasal obstruction and congestion can also lead to snoring. Commonly, we hear from patients that they typically do not snore unless they have a cold or are feeling congested. Distinguishing snoring caused by nasal obstruction or congestion and snoring related to obstruction in the back of the throat is not always straightforward. One of the tests we often ask patients to do is to use a short course of nightly Afrin spray right before bedtime (usually three nights is enough). In addition, we ask them to try a breathe rite strip for those three nights. If these maneuvers alleviate snoring, then that is an indication that snoring is at least partially if not totally related to their nasal issues.
Addressing those nasal issues begins with an accurate diagnosis. As sinus physicians, we evaluate not only possible sinus blockage, but also look for a deviated nasal septum, enlarged nasal turbinates and/or weakness in the structure of the nose which might also block airflow. Balloon sinuplasty is specifically helpful for those patients in whom it appears that their snoring issues are related to sinus blockage. Conservative medical management as well as allergy management is instituted to see if symptoms may be brought under control without intervention.
Ultimately, the decision to proceed with balloon sinuplasty is one made between the surgeon and the patient and depends upon the duration and severity of symptoms as well as the findings on CAT scan of the sinuses and response to conservative treatment. This procedure is typically done in the office setting and may be performed along with a correction of a deviated nasal septum or reduction in enlarged nasal turbinates. Typically, the patient returns to normal activity in one to two days.
Nathan E. Nachlas, MD, FACS, is the Medical Director of the Nose and Sinus Institute of Boca Raton. He specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery of the nose, sinuses, and face. He was the first surgeon in the United States to perform in office computer assisted balloon sinuplasty and continues to be at the forefront of innovation in this field. To find out more about this procedure or any of the services offered at the Nose and Sinus Institute of Boca Raton, please call Sandy Friedman, the Director of Patient Relations, at 561-939-0909 or click the button below.