Snoring is caused by obstruction and turbulent airflow anywhere along the airway. The airway begins at the nostrils and the mouth, and continues through the nasal cavity, oral cavity, oropharynx (back of the throat), larynx (voice box), and trachea (wind pipe), until finally air reaches the lungs. As you can see, there are a lot of different levels at which a potential problem could occur, and result in noisy breathing. The septum is within the nasal cavity, and is only one of the many levels at which airway obstruction can occur. If this is the only cause of airway obstruction, then a septoplasty (surgery to straighten the septum) would potentially eliminate the turbulent breathing causing snoring.
The first step in determining an appropriate treatment plan for snoring is to undergo a test called a polysomnography (PSG) or “sleep study”. During this test the patient presents to a sleep lap at night. Before going off to bed, he or she is connected to multiple monitors including an ECG, EEG, and pulse oximeter. The patient then goes to sleep, and is monitored throughout the night to determine the severity of his/her sleep apnea (snoring). Septoplasty almost always improves breathing and decreases the symptoms of nasal obstruction. However, in cases of severe sleep apnea, may not be sufficient to eliminate snoring.