Snoring (also called sleep apnea) is abnormal breathing that can be a sign of an abnormality (usually benign) near the back of your throat when tissues and muscles become weakened or collapsed. In some people, chronic apnea can cause irregular heartbeats and disrupted sleeping.

Sleep apnea can be treated by several methods:

  • The uvula, the tiny finger-like appendage hanging down from the top of your throat, as well as some of the soft palate, can be safely and surgically altered or removed. For some apnea sufferers, this brings instant relief.
  • Use of a special breathing-assist machines called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, connects your airway (usually the nose) to a special pump that delivers fresh air to your lungs while you sleep.

Here’s a brief look at some of the surgical procedures related to sleep apnea:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty—the most common surgery to treat adult sleep apnea
  • Tracheostomy—an opening is made in the windpipe
  • Tonsillectomy—removal of tonsils
  • Adenoidectomy—removal of adenoids (swollen adenoids are often associated with infected tonsils)
  • Maxillofacial reconstruction—the bones around the tongue are enlarged
  • Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty—reshapes the soft palate and opens the airway