06/24/2011 08:07 am ET Updated Aug 24, 2011

Stop Snoring For Your Summer Vacation

School is out and summer travel plans are getting underway. Whether you're planning a camping trip, renting a house on the shore for a week, or visiting relatives on the other side of the country, summer is a way for us to relax and reconnect with family.

Unfortunately, if you're one of the 50 million Americans who snore, sharing close quarters with extended family and friends can not only be embarrassing, but put a damper on the entire vacation. While your spouse may have learned to adjust to the noise of your snoring, it's important to understand that your snoring can also interfere with the sleep patterns of family and friends in close proximity.

When someone is prevented from receiving their requisite hours of recuperative sleep, it can lead them to be irritable, experience daytime drowsiness, affect their ability to concentrate and interfere with their response time when they drive. Absolutely nothing can ruin a vacation faster than cranky, overtired children and/or their parents.

However, realizing that your snoring is a problem that can be avoided, and by taking some steps ahead of time, you can prevent the issue altogether and ensure that your vacation will be full of energy and fun.

In-Office Procedures: There are a few relatively new procedures that cure or drastically eliminate snoring. They can all be performed in just a few minutes in a snoring specialist's office:

The Pillar® Procedure can be performed in a doctor's office in about 20 minutes using only a local anesthetic. It is effective in treating snoring that is caused by the fluttering of the soft palate, which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax while asleep. The procedure involves three small polyester implants that are placed into the soft palate and over time, the implants, together with the body's natural fibrotic response, provide support and stiffen the soft palate. This is a minimally invasive, simple and safe treatment for mild to moderate snoring, including snoring caused by Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Balloon Sinuplasty™ is another relatively new procedure. It is designed to treat blocked sinus passages, for snoring that is caused by chronic sinusitis. It can also be performed in a doctor's office on an out-patient basis. It uses a small, flexible, sinus balloon catheter to open up blocked sinus passageways and restore normal sinus drainage. When the balloon inflates, it widens the walls of the passageway while maintaining the integrity of the sinus lining and restores normal sinus drainage.

Over the counter treatments: There are treatments a snoring specialist can recommend to you that don't necessarily include surgery. For example, if obstruction in the nose or sinus cavity is the cause of your snoring, many patients get relief from using nasal strips. Antihistamines and decongestants, as well as topical and systemic corticosteroids, can also be of assistance.

Lifestyle Adjustments. Your snoring specialist may ask you for some lifestyle modifications before any of the above treatments are recommended. That is because there are a variety of treatable conditions that could cause you to snore.

  • Lose five to 10 pounds: Excess weight is the most common contributing factor to snoring. As a long-term goal, try losing weight, because even those that are mildly overweight find that modest weight loss can significantly reduce their snoring.
  • Quit smoking. Since snoring leads to irritation and dryness of mucous membranes, quitting cigars or cigarettes is a lifestyle change that can have a dramatic impact on snoring.
  • Reduce consumption of alcohol and sedatives. Alcohol, sedatives and sedating antihistamines lower muscle tone in the upper airways, causing an increased airway resistance -- and snoring. Many people who reduce these substances report improvements in their snoring.
  • Change your sleep position. For some people, an increased amount of obstruction occurs when they sleep on their backs. Described as positional snoring, this type of snoring has a simple solution. Sew a ball into the pocket of a t-shirt and wear it backwards. This will keep you off your back during sleep.
  • Get an extra pillow. Some positional snorers also improve when the head of the bed is elevated.
  • Pack some earplugs. If you're worried that the loudness of your snoring still won't be under control, do your fellow vacationers a favor and pack some earplugs for them. They'll thank you for it.
  • With a little forethought, your snoring doesn't need to interfere with you or your fellow vacationers' sleep. Contact a snoring specialist near you today to get the treatment you need -- and to relax and enjoy your summer travels.

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