Can snoring really kill?

Dental Surgeons say it can – they’ve found out why snoring can take life.

Snoring can indicate very serious upper airway disorders, and these blocked airways will increase Blood Pressure significantly, damaging the arteries and often leading to a Stroke.

Although considered harmless, snoring can actually indicate a very serious medical condition called sleep apnoea. Marked by irregular breathing, sleep apnoea often causes sufferers to stop breathing completely for up to several seconds and has even been linked to stroke and heart disease in some patients.

“When persons with sleep apnoea fall asleep, their tongue falls back into their throat, blocking their airway,” Dr. Arthur Friedlander, an oral surgeon who worked on the study conducted at University of California’s School of Dentistry, said in a recent statement.

“As they struggle for breath, their blood pressure simply soars and this rise in blood pressure damages the inner walls of the carotid arteries lining the sides of the neck,” he added. “Cholesterol and calcium stick to these injury sites and amass into calcified plaques, which block blood flow to the brain. The result of all this is often a massive stroke.”

According to Dr. Friedlander, these deposits of calcium deposits are merely the tip of the iceberg. “The X-ray can’t show the true size of the plaque, which is also made up of fat, platelets, and other soft tissue.” When a person is suffering from sleep apnoea, air cannot flow in or out of the nose or mouth. Oxygen is not taken in so carbon dioxide builds to dangerous levels in the blood.

“It’s just like pressing a pillow over someone’s face.” Friedlander said.

At the other side of the world to this, further recent clinical research by leading anaesthesiologists in Japan clearly demonstrates that manoeuvres such as lifting the chin, and thrusting the jaw forward, markedly improve airway potency in both adults and children.

`This clinical trial information demonstrated how using a chinstrap alone improved obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) symptoms as well as, or better than the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which necessitates the supply of oxygen throughout the night by using a face mask – not without its side effects.

Further tests with dental mouthpieces, alone, and also combined with the use of the chinstrap in more serious cases, underlined even more the ease of treating sleep apnoea this way – and the clear advantages of doing so.

This important research clearly demonstrates the easier method of treatment but don’t attempt self-cure. It is important to refer the problem that you may have to your General Practitioner.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a significant and dangerous condition – that often kills if left untreated. OSA symptoms are often responsible for daytime sleepiness, motor vehicle crashes, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Age is not at all relevant to the equation either. Make sure that you check for the symptoms in your children and grandchildren where surprisingly it is found more often than you may think and is best resolved immediately. Children’s behavioural problems may be linked to their sleep habits, according to a number of new studies. Children who snore often are nearly twice as likely as other children to have attention deficit and hyperactivity problems.

So if you find any symptoms of OSA, or simply heavy snoring, act now. Consult your GP. The evidence clearly shows that a life may depend on it.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube video for more info.


Our children – and their dangerous untreated snoring habits

Recently, when a young boy was shown on TV in San Francisco snoring loudly, as part of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, the crowd predictably laughed their heads off. However, while the video may look funny to those who do not know better, what it was exposing was a young person who suffering from severe sleep apnoea, said Carole L. Marcus, Director of The Sleep Centre at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

To Carole Marcus, snoring is no laughing matter. Nor does she think it should be for anyone else. She commented, “Snoring is something that people often don’t take seriously, but it could be a symptom of a very serious underlying condition.”

The American Academy of Paediatrics recently released new guidelines regarding children being screened for snoring every time a visit is made to a paediatrician. Snoring is often related to sleep apnoea, and loud or severe snoring is almost certainly a sign of the affliction. What is worse, sleep apnoea is health concern not only directly, but also indirectly, as it manifests in both behavioural and health problems. Unfortunately, despite the obvious connections, the symptoms often go ignored in health screenings.

These new standards were released recently after her team of researchers reviewed over 3,000 studies. Paediatricians throughout the whole of the United States will adopt their standards but yet again the United Kingdom is shown to be lagging behind in snoring research and recommendations for its treatment.

“I can tell you from my clinical experience how many children fall through the net,” Marcus said. “Sleep apnoea is just so incredibly under diagnosed in kids.”

Sleep apnoea is the cause of repeated interruptions in breathing during a person’s sleep cycle. Children who suffer from the condition are more irritable and often wish to sleep during the day. Many of these children experience headaches and have difficulty focusing in school and with retaining information and commands.

“Parents need to make a point to watch and listen to their children while they are sleeping,” he said. “They definitely need to pay attention to snoring just as they pay attention to height and weight, and raise it with their paediatrician.”

Sleep apnoea affects between 2-5% of children; however, only a much lower percentage is diagnosed and receives any type of treatment. For every five children diagnosed with asthma, there should at least one child diagnosed with sleep apnoea.

“We’ve all heard the comment made, ‘This kid has asthma,’ but how often do you hear ‘This kid has sleep apnoea?’ It’s rare – far too rare.”

While removing their tonsils can cure some sleep apnoea, many others will need a vastly different type of treatment ranging from continuous positive airway pressure, usually in the form of machines that pump air through a tube and mask into the child’s airway, or the less problematic use of an oral mouthpiece, a chinstrap, or a combination of the two.

These new recommendations by The American Academy of Paediatrics break new ground in their steps for sleep medicine regarding children, and it is high time that this sort of focus took place here in the UK.

The key AAP comment was “It’s a big deal because it shows that we recognize the importance of sleep disorders in children. It’s a big change, and an important one.”

Canada meantime is heading down the same path under the leadership of CHEO, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where one of the few fully equipped Sleep Laboratories is specially addressing this problem and they are starting to make key findings available.

Their key findings include the conclusion that children from the age of five to ten years old need a minimum of ten hours of sleep per night for proper development, while teenagers need at least eight and a half hours.

These findings include that children from five to ten years old need a minimum of ten hours of sleep per night for proper development, while teenagers need at least eight and a half hours.

“We know that short sleepers eat more and move less as a result of tiredness and a lack of sleep,” said CHEO’s Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput. “We also know that watching TV, using a laptop, and using mobile phones before going to bed will impact on their sleep quality.”

This lack of quality sleep can lead to problems such as diabetes, weight gain and even some forms of cancer down the road – all issues that CHEO is trying to address – and prevent.

By John Redfern

Take a look at our YouTube video for more info.


Serious Sleep Problems revealed in Goodnight Britain

One of the most heavily watched programmes to be shown on BBC these last few weeks has been Goodnight Britain – a long overdue insight into unusual, but common, sleeping habits. It was a programme that was reviewed in depth by the Press with a widely ranging variety of responses.

According to the documentary, half a million Britons suffer from parasomnia, the technical term for sleep-walking, talking, and in the case of one woman featured on the programme, screaming and running about in the belief that you are being assaulted. I sympathise with the lady’s housemate, as both my stepdaughters are afflicted with this condition, but not to such an extreme I’m glad to say.

The programme also tackled sufferers with very common problem sleep behaviours such as snoring and insomnia. The first step involved fitting out their homes with night vision cameras, which were then closely monitored by two sleep experts – who weirdly never seemed to need any sleep – who were concealed nearby in their ‘sleep-mobile’.

Initial reactions were of course predictable and to begin with it was hard not to see the funny side of the unusual night-time activity. Snoring, for instance, has always been a subject of choice for our comedians.

However the show soon highlighted the serious side of sleeping and its various problems, as one participant was suspended from his job as a van driver due to his suffering from OSN – or obstructive sleep apnoea, a terrifying condition in which the muscles and soft tissue in the back of the throat collapse inwards during sleep, blocking the airway, and meaning that he stopped breathing in between snores.

As a result of his diagnosis, he was asked to notify the DVLA and to stop driving for a period of four weeks while he is treated “What am I going to do now,’ he asked, “I’ve done this job for 22 years and it’s all I know”.

But due to treatment there is a happy ending. At the end of this four-week period his GP notified the DVLA that he is now safe to drive and he is able to resume driving. He goes on to develop his career and achieve his HGV Class 2 licence.

It became very apparent that few knew they had a sleep condition or disorder. However, often their partner did. “Me, I don’t snore” is the usual answer. Even those who have accepted that they do are not aware how much it can affect their health, causing strokes, diabetes and other serious illnesses. In fact we are talking very high percentages of the population – a real problem – and often ignored in the United Kingdom – whereas in Australia, Canada and the United States it is taken very seriously and is a specialist treatment area with both Doctor and Dentist.

It is estimated that a quarter of the UK population suffer sleeping difficulties and over 10 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were issued in Britain last year alone. Commentator Sian Williams described Britain as “ a nation in the grip of a sleep crisis” – a crisis that costs the NHS £1.6 billion last year just for prescriptions and sleeping pills alone – let alone the more serious results that can happen. Yet anyone who’s ever suffered from insomnia, however fitfully, knows that it’s a very miserable experience.

Sleep disorders affect many people – whether it’s snoring, sleep walking, insomnia or sleep apnoea – so if you feel you have a serious problem seek medical advice.

For the vast majority of poor sleepers, however, just making some simple improvements to their bedtime routine and environment will boost sleep quality.

For others, there are many NHS approved solutions out there including MAD’s – dental mouthpieces for want of a better term, Chinstraps and not only are they inexpensive and readily available – there is overwhelming evidence that they work, saving thousands from both short term sleep problems but more importantly, serious long term health problems, or even sudden death.

The key thing si to know if you are a sufferer – and if so – seek expert medical advice on what to do next. Do not ignore it.

The British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association has launched a UK-wide survey into public awareness of the condition, sleep apnoea. The aim is to test public knowledge about signs, symptoms and health risks associated with the condition.

To make this the biggest survey yet it needs adult participants from all walks of life to take part. Whether you have this condition or think you have it, or somebody you know has it, or even if you don’t know anything at all, they would like to hear from you.

The survey will run until the end of January 2013 and the results will be published during next year’s regular National Stop Snoring Week from 22 – 27 April 2013.

To test your knowledge visit www.sleepapnoeasurvey.org.uk

By John Redfern