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New treatment provides snoring relief

February 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A new treatment is having some success in curing an age old problem- snoring. Not only does it keep your partner up all night, it can ruin a relationship.

Snoring is a complicated problem usually caused by a number of issues. That's why there are various procedures, gadgets and creams available.

But one couple found their answer in a tiny implant smaller than a nickel. For 25 years, Dan and Pam Starkey's marriage has been interrupted by snoring.

"The snoring has lasted a long time," said Pam of her husband Dan's snoring. "We've been married 25 years and it's lasted all 25 years. But it's gotten progressively worse as we have gotten older."

"There have been occasions where I snored myself awake," said Dan. "And I wake up and I don't really know why."

"I do," replied Pam.

The couple tried all sorts of remedies. "The tennis ball sewn into the tee-shirt," said Pam.

"A little electric thing," said Dan.

"Then he had a roto rooter deviated septum," said Pam.

"I had part of my uvula removed," said Dan. "Don't ever do that."

After 10 years of sleeping on the couch Dan decided to take his snoring setback into his own hands. He participated in a sleep study and learned about something called the Pillar Procedure.

"It goes into the soft palate," said Dr. David Volpi who is an ear, nose and throat specialist. "And we typically put 3 to 5 in and line them up in the back of the soft palate. And the body forms a bridge of scar tissue between them which reduces the vibration in the soft palate."

"It was pretty simple," said Dan. "It was very simple."

"As a matter of fact, I didn't know he was doing this," said Pam. "He came home, and told me about it. I was flabbergasted."

"It was a non-event," said Dan. "And it worked just like a charm. It was really pretty cool."

Experts caution the Pillar Procedure isn't for everyone.

"The problem with the Pillar Procedure is it doesn't cure sleep apnea," Dr. Alon Avidan from the UCLA Sleep Center. "It may improve it, but it doesn't provide a cure. 50 percent of the patients do better; the other 50 percent of the patients don't show significant improvement."

For Dan and Pam, it's sweet and silent dreams together.

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