Sick of Snoring? Understand Your Treatment Options

A man in Idaho recently tried to perform his own sinus surgery. He had been told he needed sinus surgery to stop snoring, and when he realized he couldn’t possibly afford the procedure, he decided to do it himself. He drank hard for a week straight, then inserted straws in his nose and hit himself in the face with a door to break his nose. He was arrested because when his family and friends tried to stop them, he threatened them with a bayonet affixed to a rifle. When the police came, he was so ashamed of himself that he initially claimed he’d been jumped and beaten, only later admitting to his improvised surgery.

What this guy really needed was a second opinion, because not only is surgery not the only option for treating snoring, it’s not usually the best one. Men are the most common snorers, and shouldn’t ignore it. Snoring can cause problems in relationships (such as getting stabbed by your wife), and put you at an increased risk for car accidents and other health problems.

If you’re a snorer, it’s important to understand your treatment options so you can get the right one for you.

Treat Your Snoring at Home

That’s right, there are many ways to treat your snoring at home, and they don’t involve either performing surgery on yourself or buying any of those crazy antisnoring products you see at the drug store (though most of those are harmless, and you can try them, but be forewarned that they likely won’t work).

One of the simplest things you can do to treat your snoring is to stop sleeping on your back. When you sleep on your back, it causes tissue in your mouth and throat to collapse, partly obstructing your airway, which leads to the constricted airflow that causes snoring. If you have a hard time just deciding to sleep on your back, you can try to encourage it by sewing a pocket to the back of your shirt and putting a tennis ball in it. For a quick fix, turn a t-shirt with a pocket backwards and put a tennis ball in there. It won’t be optimally centered, but it’ll probably work.

Another thing guys can do to reduce snoring is lose weight. Being overweight increases the tissue built up around your airways, which can cause them to narrow more. You know you want to lose weight, anyway. This is another good incentive that will hopefully get you motivated to finally take off those extra pounds.

You can also cut down on your nightcaps. Drinking alcohol before bedtime relaxes your muscles, making it more likely that they won’t support your airway properly during sleep. Don’t drink any alcohol at least two–and preferably four—hours before bedtime.

Next, try to reduce airway irritation by cutting down on allergens in your home. Clean your air filters regularly, keep dust to a minimum (yeah, I know, dusting isn’t really a skill that most men have or practice regularly), and, of course, quit smoking. (Wow, lose weight, cut down on alcohol, and quit smoking. It’s the trifecta of bummers—but all can improve your snoring.)

Talk to Your Doctor

If you try these things (or don’t want to try them), perhaps you should talk to your doctor about snoring. Your doctor will be able to recommend a number of treatment options for you. The least invasive is oral appliance therapy. You wear something like a sports mouthguard to bed, and it positions your jaw so that your airway is held open. There are options similar to this available over the counter, but unless they’re professionally fitted, they’re unlikely to work properly.

Another option is palatal implants. If your soft palate is causing your snoring, these rigid plastic inserts can be placed with minor surgery to help hold your soft palate up.

And then there’re surgical options. These include surgery on the nose, mouth, or throat to open up your airway to reduce snoring. The problem with these surgical options (besides being expensive) is that they aren’t always as effective as we would like them to be. Sometimes people will get initially good results, then find themselves snoring again within a few months.

There Are Many Options

The key is that there are many options for treating snoring, and most likely your best option doesn’t involve surgery. In fact, your best option is treating it at home—by which we mean, without surgery.

Dr. Matthew B. Candelaria

View posts by Dr. Matthew B. Candelaria
Dr. Matthew B. Candelaria (PhD, U of Kansas 2006) is a freelance writer who works in a variety of science- and law-related fields, with special emphasis on medical and environmental topics. He is also an award-winning science fiction author and critic. He can be reached for hire or for comment at
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