New Procedure to Help Snoring, Sleep Apnea

AUGUST 3, 2005 -- Snoring is the last thing you want to hear when you're trying to sleep at night. It's enough to drive some husbands and wives apart.

"We couldn't even sleep together. It was really nasty. I could not have a good night's sleep because of him," says Lucy Dombrowski.

"Oh, the snoring was horrendous. I'd wake myself up in the middle of the night," adds her husband Ted.

Ted was also waking up exhausted. Besides snoring, he suffers from mild sleep apnea, a highly underdiagnosed condition that causes you to stop breathing sporadically throughout the night. If left untreated, it can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.

"It's kind of like running your car on low oil. It won't break down today or tomorrow, but it won't last to a hundred thousand miles. So things start happening earlier in your life if you have sleep apnea," says Dr. Kevin Krebsbach.

There's a new FDA approved procedure to stop mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring. It's called the pillar procedure. Three tiny pillars are placed in the back of the throat. They work as a support for tissue that stretches and relaxes when you're asleep.

In the past a painful surgery was the only option. The pillar procedure's done right in the office and only takes a matter of minutes to perform.

"I took the plunge. I was nervous and come to find out it wasn't one tenth as bad as I thought it could possibly be," says Ted Dombrowski.

Now he says he's 80 percent cured. As a result, he has more energy to work on projects around the house, and his wife has come back to bed.

The pillar procedure is 80 to 90 percent effective at treating snoring and it works 50 to 60 percent of the time with sleep apnea. It's being done nationwide.

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Courtesy: NBC Network