Q: My husband has always been a snorer, but over the past few years it seems to have gotten worse. It's to the point where I'm often forced to get up in the middle of the night to sleep in the guest room. We're both in our fifties and extremely health conscious. How can we find a solution before it starts putting a strain on our marriage?

A: According to a report published in the April 2004 Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 44 million Americans are affected by disruptive snoring, so you're not alone. The snoring sound is a noise made by the vibration of tissue in the upper airway, i.e., your mouth, nose and the back of your throat. When airways are narrow, the body has to work harder to inhale and exhale, causing airflow to become more forceful and increasing tissue vibration. Snoring can either be occasional or habitual, depending on the cause.

Several lifestyle choices, including smoking, obesity, and alcohol or sedative consumption before bed can affect snoring. If your husband smokes, is obese, drinks alcohol or takes sedatives before going to bed, eliminating these practices is the first thing I would recommend to address his snoring. Unfortunately, if your husband suffers from condition(s) like allergies, sinus infections or asthma that cause nasal airway blockage, these lifestyle changes will not be enough to take care of his snoring problem. In addition, heredity has a huge impact on whether or not someone snores, as people can simply "inherit" a narrow throat, large tongue, etc.

Fortunately, there are treatments for snoring caused by factors that are out of your control. Studies have estimated that nearly 80 percent of all snoring cases are either partially or entirely caused by the vibration of soft palate tissue located in the back of the throat. The good news is that a simple, minimally invasive procedure with short recovery time has been developed to treat the soft palateThe Pillar Procedure.

The Pillar Procedure takes just one brief visit to a physician's office and typically is performed in approximately 20 minutes using only local anesthetic. Most people return to normal diet and activities the same day.

During the Pillar Procedure, three tiny polyester implants are placed into the soft palate. Over time, the implants, together with the body's natural fibrotic response, add structural support to and stiffen the soft palate. This structural support and stiffening reduce the palatal tissue vibration that can cause snoring. The Pillar Procedure is minimally invasive, and because tissue is not removed or damaged, discomfort is minimal and recovery time is short.

Some patients report a noticeable improvement within weeks, while others may take up to three months to realize the full benefit of the Pillar Procedure. The Pillar Procedure is designed to be permanent and to provide a long-lasting effect.

Jeffrey H. Aroesty, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a highly skilled head and neck surgeon, well-versed in treating a variety of maladies affecting the head, neck and thyroid, including sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, otitis media and other diseases of the ears, nose and throat.

He is trained to perform the Pillar Procedurean in-office procedure to help alleviate snoring and Sleep Apnea. He practices in Mount Arlington, New Jersey and is also affiliated with St. Clares Hospital and Ridgedale Surgery Center. Dr. Aroesty participates in a wide variety of insurances including Horizon, Aetna, Oxford, United Healthcare, and Healthnet.

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