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A California company has received federal Food and Drug Administration approval for an anti-snoring treatment, Somnoplasty, that uses radio waves to heat and destroy tissue blocking the airway.

The procedure aims to cure snoring and a more serious ailment, sleep apnea, a recurrent halting of breath that can wake sufferers repeatedly and, in rare instances, suffocate them.

Somnus Medical Technologies of Sunnyvale, Calif., was expected to announce the approval of its technology today.

Forty million Americans -- more than one in seven -- suffer from habitual snoring, the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research reported in 1994. Another 7 million to 18 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea.

Unlike laser surgery, the Somnoplasty technology works at relatively low temperatures and leaves outer tissue -- such as taste buds -- intact.

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