Most people snore once in a while, and occasional snoring doesn’t usually require medical attention. However, a serious snoring issue isn’t something that should be overlooked. Snoring can affect your sleep quality, reduce oxygen levels in your body, and lead to other health concerns. It also can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing throughout the night.
If you snore several times per week, it’s important to figure out the cause and find an effective solution. Some people fix their snoring problem with simple lifestyle changes or natural treatments, but other people have more difficulty. If you haven’t found a treatment that works, you should speak to a doctor for advice. You may wonder what doctor to see for snoring. Here are a few options for doctors who can help your sleep-disordered breathing:
Like with most health issues, your general practitioner should be the first doctor you see. Although your GP may not know as much about snoring as a specialist, they’ll be a great starting point. Your GP knows you and your medical history, so they may have some insight into why you snore. After discussing your snoring problem, they can refer you to the appropriate specialist for treatment.
An otolaryngologist, also known as an ENT doctor, is the most common specialist to see for snoring. ENT doctors treat problems with the ears, nose, and throat, so they have a thorough understanding of why snoring happens, what the underlying causes are, and how to fix the problem.
During your meeting with an otolaryngologist, you and the doctor will discuss your medical history, your snoring habits, and other symptoms you have that may be related. The doctor will examine your nose, mouth, throat, and neck to determine the cause of your snoring. For most people, habitual snoring is caused by structural issues in the mouth or throat, such as nasal obstruction, poor muscle tone, or enlargement of the tonsils or adenoids.
Fortunately, once your ENT doctor figures out the cause of your snoring, the treatment should be fairly straightforward. Your doctor can recommend anti-snoring mouthpieces, lifestyle changes, and other treatments that will help open up your airway and prevent sleep-disordered breathing.
In severe cases, snoring surgery may be necessary. If this is the case for you, you’ll be referred to an ENT. Surgery is only used as a last resort when no other treatments work, but an otolaryngologist can perform a variety of procedures to remove excess tissue in your throat, tighten up your soft palate, and create more space in your airway.
Sleep specialists can also be very helpful if you have a snoring problem. They’re trained in many areas of medicine, including neurology, pulmonary medicine, and otolaryngology, so they understand all of the different causes and consequences of snoring.
If you suspect that you have obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep specialist is your best option. While an ENT doctor will look at the structure of your mouth and throat, a sleep specialist will focus on your actual sleeping habits and patterns and will be better able to treat sleep apnea.
Almost all people with sleep apnea snore, so snoring is one of the most obvious signs of the disorder. When you have obstructive sleep apnea, the tissues in your throat completely collapse over your airway and cause you to stop breathing. Then, your brain will force you to wake up and gasp for breath to get oxygen. If anyone has noticed this happening to you, you should definitely make an appointment with a sleep specialist.
A sleep specialist can give you a sleep test to diagnose sleep apnea or other disorders and to determine the best way to treat your snoring. An at-home sleep test includes a small machine and sensors that you attach to your body when you go to bed. An in-lab sleep study can provide more detailed results about your sleep habits. During this study, you’ll sleep for a night in a comfortable room with sensors attached to your body. Your sleep specialist or a technician will monitor you to diagnose a sleep disorder.
A dentist probably isn’t your first consideration when you think about what doctor to see for snoring, but dentists can recommend anti-snoring mouthpieces or other devices. Mouthpieces like mandibular advancement devices and tongue stabilizing devices are some of the most effective snoring treatments for people whose snoring is caused by structural issues in the throat.
You should visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups, so you can ask about your snoring problem during one of these appointments. Your dentist may be able to figure out the cause of your snoring and fit you with a custom anti-snoring mouthpiece.