Women, Snoring and the Menopause

It’s not just middle-aged overweight men who wreck their other half’s sleep.

Women are equally affected.

I read with interest an article in The Daily Mail recently where a woman discovered her snoring could result in serious health issues if untreated. Whilst napping on a train last summer she was suddenly woken by the sound of a loud snore.

She opened her eyes to see her family looking shocked, before bursting into loud giggles as she came to and in time to see a smartly dressed businesswoman gather up her laptop and move down the carriage.

In that moment she realised she was the one who had been snoring. To make matters worse, they were in the Quiet Zone. Everyone would have heard. She had always hoped that she was naturally feminine and alluring even while sleeping.

However over the past ten years her partner had repeatedly said she snored – sometimes when napping, and sometimes in the night when her snores had often woken him.  She always thought he was joking and denied it.

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Tired businesswoman asleep at her desk

She had always attributed snoring to smoking, or being overweight and indulging in too much alcohol or fatty foods – none of which applied. Then she recalled that she had been suffering a lot from daytime fatigue over the recent years. She had wondered occasionally if I something was seriously wrong. But then, in more sensible moments, thought she was just tired because of having a busy lifestyle.

The drowsiness had happened in a wide variety of situations; at the computer screen, in the cinema, and in front of the TV. She had even nodded off while on the phone.  It also happened during conversations with her family. She once found her daughter stabbing her awake with a pencil during a discussion about impending A-level choices.

Then she discovered, whilst in hospital for an unrelated matter, that her snoring could result in some very serious health issues if untreated.

Snoring and unexplained daytime sleepiness – either on their own or combined – may amount to nothing. But the two of them, together with increasing weight, and being aged over 50 indicates that the problem is likely to be OSA – Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – essentially, interrupted breathing during sleep.

When we sleep, our airways naturally relax and narrow. With sleep apnoea, the muscles and soft tissues around the airways relax and collapse so much they cause a blockage to the airway – the snoring is caused by the air being forced through a narrower space.  But if the airway becomes completely blocked you can actually stop breathing for ten seconds or more until you gasp or choke. It’s then that the brain starts the breathing process again.

The long-term effects of obstructive sleep apnoea, if not treated, is frightening. It’s linked to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. It can also lead to weight gain, which can only make OSA worse.’

Being excessively tired as a result of having your sleep repeatedly disrupted as you stop breathing during the night carries risks, too. ‘There is some research that shows that drivers who have OSA are six times more likely to have road accidents than those who don’t,’ says Professor Williams.

Yet the condition does not always get picked up as quickly as it should. Medical professionals believe 80 per cent of people with the condition are undiagnosed, many of them women, who are very reluctant, like the example described earlier, to admit that they snore.

John Redfern


FACT: Obesity causes snoring and it is highly dangerous

At the beginning of January I referred in an article to the fact that many more people are seeking medical help to try to stop them snoring and much of this increase is linked to the rising levels of obesity in the UK.

Since then even more data has been published in the Press and on TV. The statistical facts from this new report published by the NHS are extremely alarming. The main conclusion of the report, ‘State of the Nation’s Waistline’, is that over half of the UK population will be obese by the year 2050. If the current trend is not reversed there will be a cost of £50 billion per year to the National Health Service.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a term used to describe somebody who is very overweight with a high degree of body fat.

If you have a body mass index of 30 or above, you would be considered obese. It isn’t just a cosmetic issue, being obese increases your risk of developing a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

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What are the main NHS findings?

  • There has been a marked increase in obesity rates over the past eight years – in 1993 13% of men and 16% of women were obese – in 2011 this rose to 24% for men and 26% for women.
  • The proportion of adults with a healthy body mass index (BMI) – defined as being between 18.5 and 25 – fell to just 34% in men and 39% in women during 2011.
  • For children attending reception class (aged 4-5 years) during 2011-12, 9.5% were obese.
  • During 2011-12 there were 11,736 hospital admissions due to obesity – this over 11 times higher than during 2001-02.
  • In 2011, 53% of obese men and 44% of obese women were found to have high blood pressure.

The report acknowledges current government approaches to the obesity problem, including the Change4Life Programme and the Public Health Responsibility Deal, but highlights that some significant gaps that must be addressed. In summary, while there are glimmers of hope, the overall picture is bad and may be worse than previously assumed.

What is the cause of the problem?

The underlying causes of the UK’s (and most of the developed world’s) obesity epidemic are not addressed in the report, but there is a large consensus of expert opinion that the following factors are responsible, Primarily as a result of changed aspects of lifestyle including the following:

  • There is easy access to cheap, high-energy food that is often aggressively marketed to people.
  • People’s lifestyles and jobs are much less active than in the past and many leisure activities such as watching television, playing video games and browsing the internet are usually done sitting down.
  • People drive or use public transport and walk a lot less than before.
  • Higher alcohol consumption and late night eating

How do I know if I have a problem?

Snoring is the alarm call that warns you of likely health dangers and even premature death and must be acted upon immediately. Snoring itself can do great damage through poor sleep patterns, disturbed nights and oxygen deprivation – all with drastic results.

How do I tackle the problem?

Although the lifestyle aspects are hard to change, and may take considerable time to achieve results, the sleep deprivation through snoring can be solved fast – in fact almost immediately.

Stop snoring mouthpieces are recommended by all Health professionals worldwide, and are NHS approved. They are easily available and at a very low cost at under £40 for the basic mouthpiece, and work immediately to stop the problem and cut fatigue, so safeguarding future health.

They have a record of high effectiveness and also patient satisfaction.

By John Redfern


Do you have Sleep Apnoea? If so, it’s a Time Bomb – and it’s ticking…

25% of the UK population suffers some form of sleep disorder that results in excessive daytime sleepiness. The following clues may help you to decide if there’s a chance that you may have sleep apnoea, which is a highly dangerous condition.

  • Do you wake up most mornings with a dull headache?
  • Do you feel just as tired as when you went to sleep?
  • Has your partner moved to the spare room?
  • Do they complain about listening to you snore loudly?
  • Do you choke and appear to gasp for air?

If so, you may have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) — a condition where the upper passages of your airway close off, interrupting your breathing and depriving you of oxygen until you wake up and start breathing again. We believe that sleep apnoea affects more than 5 million UK adults but we also believe that around 80% of cases remain undiagnosed and the majority are living without treatment. OSA is a very dangerous condition to ignore.

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders

How common is OSA?

OSA is a relatively common condition that affects more men than women. In the UK, NHS figures estimate that around 4% of middle-aged men and 2% of middle-aged women have OSA and these are just the known cases.

Due to the lack of diagnosis only estimates are possible – but based on the number of known cases, it is likely that this is the tip of the iceberg, and that there are around 5-6 million sufferers in reality – and due to causes like being overweight, this figure is growing fast.

The onset of OSA is most common in people aged 35 to 54 years old, although it can affect people of all ages, including children. Studies have also shown that 60% of people over 65 years old have OSA.

It is thought that up to 5% of adults have undiagnosed OSA – 3 million cases.

OSA is easy to treat but when left undiagnosed and untreated, is linked with a range of serious health concerns that include heart disease and stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure, called hypertension. Fatigue becomes a huge problem too.

Mild to moderate OSA has proved far easier to treat that severe OSA and can be helped by the use of a simple mouthpiece that moves the jaw slightly forward and keeps the airway open – so breathing can be continuous. These have a high effectiveness rate – as much as 98% – and are inexpensive, simple to acquire as they need no prescription, and you will find that they are easy and comfortable to wear.

The result is that snoring stops immediately, you feel better rested, and you are likely for fewer long-term health problems. It’s a wise investment.

If the problem persists then consult your GP who will refer you for a Sleep Test to determine more fully the problem and its severity, but mouthpieces work for most sufferers and do it fast.

By John Redfern


The best New Year Resolution is to Stop Snoring, sleep better, and live longer

The start of a new year is always a time for us all to reassess our lives and undertake new directions, particularly as far as our health is concerned. To help us to do this, the current growth in our scientific and medical knowledge has included an improved understanding of sleep and its vital importance to our long-term health.

The past few years has seen significant advances in research showing a clear connection between poor and disturbed sleep and health conditions that range from early death to strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease and even cancer. Science is clarifying how important this is and why getting enough quality, refreshing sleep is vital to have happy and healthy lives. At the same time, public awareness is now beginning to grow about the importance of good sleep.

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Many factors contribute to poor sleep, and at least some of them can be addressed with wider recognition of sleep’s role for health. Sleep remains relatively low on most people’s priority list, and the result is that people do not address factors that harm sleep and are at least partially controllable: busy schedules, stress, smoking, alcohol or weight gain. It is time for us to pay much more attention to sleep and to modify our lifestyles to recognize the value of sleep to our future health.

A key element of this is to stop snoring. This is the most widespread sleep disorder of all, but is so often ignored and even thought amusing, which it certainly isn’t, either for the person snoring, or anyone else that has constantly disturbed sleep due to the problem.

We need to learn that it’s so easy stop snoring and sleep better.

It’s also vital to consider if it’s just snoring or is it sleep apnoea which is a more dangerous problem altogether, but often with an equally simple and similar solution.

The biggest tell tale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep quite as much as sleep apnoea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.

Even if you don’t have sleep apnoea, a snoring problem can still get in the way of your bed partner’s rest and affect your own sleep quality and health and there are quick, inexpensive, proven treatments that can help, and can do so fast without a prescription.
It’s as simple as acquiring a stop snoring mouthpiece to wear at night. They are readily available online, simple to use, and because they can be moulded to fit your teeth and jaw, are comfortable to wear. They are similar to a sports mouthpiece but with a different type of safety in mind as the end objective. More importantly they are incredibly effective and will stop the problem of snoring in 98% of cases.

To stop snoring by changing your lifestyle takes a very long time and you may not be successful, because as we know, it’s difficult to do, and slimming and stopping smoking are two prime examples of this. A mouthpiece on the other hand will work immediately.

For snoring, and mild to moderate cases of sleep apnoea, a stop snoring mouthpiece is now so often the solution of medical choice, and medical professionals and health authorities worldwide recommend them, including the NHS in Britain.

By John Redfern


Record number of snorers are seeking medical help

The number of snorers seeking medical help has soared by nearly a third in just five years, rising to a record all-time level. Hospitals have just revealed that patients went for 24,329 appointments last year after being referred to consultants by their GP – almost 500 every week. Obesity has been cited as the single major factor for the figure rising 31 per cent in just five years from 18,523 and more than doubling from 11,714 a decade ago.

  • Nearly 25,000 appointments were made at hospitals last year for snoring
  • Obesity has been cited as a major factor for the rising figure
  • The British Heart Foundation says obesity is a known risk factor for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and serious snoring and sleep disorders.
  • Snoring is caused by the vibration of soft tissue in the neck and while inhaling and it can be triggered by being just a few pounds overweight.

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Being overweight is a major factor in why sleepers develop problems and the condition can worsen as the pounds pile on because fatty tissue around the neck hinders airflow.

Snoring can worsen into sleep apnoea, a more serious condition where patients have short periods when they cannot breathe. The brain wakes them so they take in more oxygen but the cumulative effect means the patient has a dreadful night’s sleep and can often drop off during the day.

Sleep apnoea can have a debilitating effect on a patient’s life and this includes serious consequences at work. Transport officials have disclosed that 210 drivers had their HGV licences taken away in the last three years because of the problem.

It is estimated that around 15million people in the UK snore to some extent with around 180,000 going on to develop full-blown sleep apnoea and NHS data shows that the number of people admitted to hospital in England with sleep apnoea is also up from 8,803 ten years ago to 23,657 last year.

A worrying aspect of the trend is the rising number of children suffering the debilitating condition.

Last year, youngsters had 3,556 hospital appointments related to sleep apnoea in contrast to 2,949 five years ago and 2,143 a decade ago. Marianne Davey, director at the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association, said: ‘Lifestyle factors are still the number one reason for snoring and as the nation becomes fatter, snoring and sleep apnoea will increase.

There has been a four-fold increase in the number of children and teenagers admitted to hospital for obesity-related conditions in the last decade, doctors in England and Wales warn.

In 2009, nearly 4,000 young people needed hospital treatment for problems complicated by being overweight compared with just 872 in 2000.

Rates of obesity surgery also went up, especially for teenage girls.

Doctors say the UK has the highest rate of child obesity in Western Europe.

Obesity has been linked with serious illnesses during childhood and an increased risk of developing conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, asthma and breathing difficulties during sleep. Snoring can worsen into sleep apnoea, a more serious condition where patients have short periods when they cannot breathe.

The good news is everybody can stop snoring. Make your New Year Resolution now.

By John Redfern


Drowsy Driving: Sleepiness behind the wheel can be deadly

Life can get busy, full of appointments and obligations that keep us on the go and can even push us to the limit in order to get it all done. But, when we push ourselves to the point of getting behind the wheel tired, we put others and ourselves in danger. Drowsy driving can be extremely dangerous, and studies have shown 16.5 per cent of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver.

As we approach the holiday travel season, many people will be hitting the roads to visit family and friends. Here are a few things for you to consider that can help you stay safe and alert on the road.

Worst times for sleep-related crashes

Drivers are more susceptible to sleep-related crashes at night or in the afternoon. At night, especially between midnight and 6 a.m., is particularly risky because it is when we are generally sleeping. Many drowsy driving crashes also occur during the “afternoon lull” between 1 and 5 p.m.

Younger drivers are more likely to drive when they are drowsy

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Signs you are too tired to safely drive

  • Trouble remembering the last miles driven
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused
  • Difficulty keeping your head up
  • Yawning frequently or repeatedly rubbing your eyes
  • Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating or hitting rumble strips
  • Missing traffic signs or driving past your exit
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Daydreaming or having disconnected thoughts

Results from a recent Traffic Safety study found younger drivers are more likely than older drivers to drive while drowsy. Drivers between the ages of 16-24 are 78 per cent more likely to have been drowsy at the time of a crash than drivers between the ages of 40-59.

Young people tend to think they need less sleep and can find themselves sleep deprived. Teenaged bodies are still growing, requiring approximately nine hours of sleep a night to be fully rested.

Here are seven tips to help you avoid drowsy driving crashes:

  1. Get Your ZZZs. Get enough sleep, at least seven hours, the night before a trip. Organize tasks related to your trip so you can complete them in the days before your departure. This will allow you to get a good night’s rest instead of staying up late to finish the preparations.
  2. Travel at times when you are normally awake. Driving at times you are normally awake will allow you to be the most alert. Also, keep meals light when driving to minimize the effects of the “afternoon lull.”
  3. Caffeine has its limits. While caffeine may help you feel more awake, it takes about 30 minutes to take effect and only lasts a few hours. It is not a substitute for getting enough sleep, but it can be part of your strategy for staying alert.
  4. Use the buddy system. An alert passenger can watch you for signs of fatigue. They can also help keep things interesting by playing music or engaging in conversation.
  5. Schedule stops. Plan to stop every two hours or 100 miles to give you a break from the road. Use the stop to get out of the vehicle, stretch and walk around so your body can refresh itself.
  6. Take a power nap. Pull off the road and pick a safe place to park, such as a rest area or parking lot. Rest for 20 minutes, and then get up and walk around before continuing your trip.
  7. Above all, never drive while sleepy. If you become sleepy while driving, pull over and get some sleep. Remember, if you nod off for four seconds while traveling 65 miles per hour, you will travel more than the length of a football field without having control of your vehicle.

Sleepiness and fatigue can slow your reaction time, decrease awareness, and impair your judgment just like drugs or alcohol. Use the tips above to help you stay alert behind the wheel, so you and your family can have a safe holiday season on the roads.

SleepPro wishes you a very safe Christmas and New Year


Treating Sleep Apnoea May Lower Problem Blood Pressure by 10%

Doctor taking blood pressure to patient

People with sleep apnoea and hard-to-control high blood pressure may see their blood pressure drop if they start to treat the sleep disorder, according to new research that has been carried out in Europe.

The standard treatment for sleep apnoea, a condition characterized by disrupted breathing during sleep, is either to wear an all night facemask with oxygen supply, called CPAP, or an approved mouthpiece, sometimes called a splint.

This dangerous sleep disorder has been linked to high blood pressure.

Patients included in this study were taking three or more drugs to lower their blood pressure, in addition to having sleep apnoea. Participants who then underwent treatment for 3 months reduced their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) and improved their overall night-time blood pressure, the researchers found.

 

“The prevalence of sleep apnoea in patients with resistant high blood pressure is very high,” said the lead researcher. “Treatment for this increases the probability of recovering the normal nocturnal blood pressure pattern,” he said.

The European report in question has been published in the December Journal of the American Medical Association.

The CPAP system consists of a pumping unit that pushes air through a tube connected to a mask that fits over the patient’s mouth and nose. The air forced through by the device keeps the airway from closing, and thus allows continuous sleep. The mouthpiece however is much easier to use and is similar to a sports gum-shield – easy and comfortable to wear – and moves the jaw forward slightly during sleep opening the airway in doing so.

Sleep apnoea is a common disorder. The pauses in breathing that patients experience can last from a few seconds to minutes and they can occur 30 times or more an hour. As a result, sleep quality is poor, making sleep apnoea a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.

The researchers state that short term, the findings are encouraging, and now it needs to test for the long-term benefits to see if it is sustained.

“Close to three out of four patients with resistant high blood pressure have been found to have obstructive sleep apnoea, and this sleep apnoea may contribute to the difficulty to control the blood pressure in these patients. Whether these improvements in blood pressure can be sustained in the long term and will translate to improved health outcomes will require additional studies,” he said.

The researchers found that those receiving treatment lowered their 24-hour average blood pressure 3.1 mm Hg more than those not receiving treatment and similar results were achieved for the average diastolic blood pressure.

The difference in systolic pressure wasn’t statistically significant between the two treatment groups, the researchers noted.

The systolic pressure, the top number, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The diastolic pressure, the bottom number, measures the pressure in the arteries between beats.

John Redfern

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Heavy snorers are twice as likely to suffer fatal strokes

New research from the Institute of Cardiology based on 25,000 people states emphatically that snorers are 80 percent more likely to suffer some form of heart disease, and are twice as likely to suffer a fatal stroke due to a blood clot than those who sleep peacefully.

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These alarming findings, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, suggest thedangers of heavy snoring are greater than previously thought.

Around three million people suffer with the snoring condition sleep apnoea, with at least one in four men and one in ten women affected, although this probably understates the problem, as most cases go undiagnosed.

As sleep begins, the muscles in the airways relax. While this does not pose a problem for most people, in sleep apnoea it leads to breathing being shut off for at least ten seconds. Air vibrates against the soft tissue that stands in its way, causing the characteristic ‘rasping’ sound that snorers make. Once the brain realises that breathing has stopped, it sends out a signal for the airway muscles to contract again. This opens the airway and the sufferer normally wakes with a jolt.

In mild sleep apnoea, this can happen once every ten minutes. But in more severe cases, it means sleep can be disturbed every couple of minutes. Treatment can involve sleeping with a mask that pumps air into the throat, but this is often found difficult by sufferers and rejected in favour of the popular and effective alternative, wearing a mouthpiece or splint, which keeps the air passage open when asleep. Similar to a gum shield that is worn in games like rugby, this method is now medically recommended, and better products are NHS approved

But, as previously said, tens of thousands of sufferers are thought to go untreated, and this latest study suggests that the dangers to the heart and brain are greater than doctors thought. Scientists came up with their findings after pooling data from 12 earlier studies that had been done.

The results showed that strokes were twice as likely in heavy snorers, but mild snorers faced little or no increased risk.

Scientists think that the problem stems from the blood flow to the heart and brain being affected by constant breathing interruptions, but it may also be due to the fact that heart rate and blood pressure are repeatedly jolted out of their naturally lower state during deep sleep.

Strokes hit 150,000 people every year, with 30,000 being fatal. Only cancer and heart disease kill more people.

The researchers said: ‘Patients with sleep apnoea who snore heavily will be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and death.’

So if you think you may have the condition, have a chat to your doctor and take steps to stop snoring immediately with an approved product that has a high proven success rate.

For many people, it is linked to other risk factors for the heart, such as obesity, so it’s likely your doctor will help you think about lifestyle changes to improve the condition, such as making sure you take regular exercise and examine what you regularly eat or drink.

By John Redfern

JR/END/564/08.12.13


Being overweight and snoring may soon seriously affect your livelihood

It has long been accepted that carrying excess weight can cause snoring, and that as we get older there is a greater likelihood of this happening. The soft tissue of the throat softens as we age and has a tendency to restrict the airflow as a result. As a consequence when we force air through the narrowed throat, the resultant vibration is the sound of snoring and the worse the constriction, the louder the problem.

This deprivation of oxygen also causes poor sleep and it results in next day drowsiness or fatigue, dependent on the severity of the problem. At its worst, OSA is the result (obstructive sleep apnoea), and this can damage health severely.

The DVLA, AA and other motoring organisations in the UK agree that a significant number of motorway accidents happen as a result of drowsiness caused by poor sleep hygiene, and the figure may be as high as 12% of all accidents. In the USA this percentage is even higher – almost 17% being attributed to this problem as obesity is a major problem in the country.

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Strong attention has been paid for some years on alcohol consumption for both drivers and airline pilots, but that has now broadened to include sleep hygiene. As ever, the USA leads the way but this does of course include all pilots who fly there from other countries, not just US pilots.

In a month where here in the UK, we have already seen an Air Pakistan pilot jailed for 9 months for being three times over the accepted limit, this has been followed by the following steps being taken:

1. The Federal Aviation Authority is to check overweight pilots for restful sleep. Overweight airline pilots and air-traffic controllers are going to start getting a closer medical evaluation from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The change means that specialist aviation medical examiners will calculate each pilot’s Body Mass Index, which calculates weight divided by height, when they are examined every six months. Anyone with a BMI of at least 40 or who has at least a 17-inch neck would then have to be evaluated by a sleep specialist.

Pilots can then be disqualified if they have an untreated sleep problem called obstructive sleep apnoea, which can lead to daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure and other major health issues. The new test will require that overweight pilots be treated for obstructive sleep apnoea before receiving their certificates.

After all overweight pilots are treated, tests for obstructive sleep apnoea will be extended for all pilots because it has been assessed that 30% of people with a BMI that is less than 30, also suffer from the problem.

The policy change will be extended to air traffic controllers too; recent news has covered several incidents where controllers have fallen asleep on duty.

2. The US Senate passes sleep apnoea bill for truck drivers

In the same month the US Senate has recently passed a bill that that would compel the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create new regulations addressing dangerous sleep disorders that have been found to be common among many truck drivers — including sleep apnoea.

  • Overweight truck drivers account for 18 per cent of fatal truck accidents
  • 86% of the 3.2 million truck drivers in the U.S. are overweight or obese
  • 30% of American truck drivers are believed to have sleep apnoea

The overall result is that aggressive screening will now take place throughout the Transport Industry and we must ask ourselves the question how long it will be before it happens here – and perhaps it’s even a matter of the sooner the better.

JR/END/614/01.12.2013


New Guidelines for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

If you already suffer from sleep apnoea, or think that you or your partner may have this dangerous problem, and it remains undiagnosed for whatever reason, then the new rules that have been issued in the United States will have some real meaning for you.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has published new clinical practice guidelines regarding the management and treatment of OSA in adults. It deals with the known detrimental effects of the problem, and discusses the limitations of the various available treatments. These findings endorse those of the AASM – the American Academy of Sleep Medicine but take recommendations further.

As ever, the USA is ahead of the UK in dealing with this huge problem, partly because it is so much more widespread in the community there. Much of this can be linked to obesity, a major problem in the USA, and which is rapidly becoming so here due to changes in our diet, lower exercise levels in youth, and sedentary occupations now being the largest group by far versus manual workers. Alcohol also often plays a significant role in the equation – mostly due to the high calorific intake and the effect that alcohol can have on sleep hygiene.

What is OSA?

OSA disrupts breathing during sleep, and this is usually as a result of the muscles and soft tissues in the throat relaxing and collapsing to block the airway. It can last for about 10 seconds or even more. It affects people of all ages, but particularly those of us in middle age, and particularly the elderly.

However, we believe that around 80% of cases remain undiagnosed. OSA is easy to treat but when left undiagnosed and untreated, is linked with a range of serious health concerns that include heart disease and stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure, called hypertension. Fatigue becomes a huge problem too.

Current approved treatments for OSA and sleep disordered breathing

OSA is a chronic medical disorder that requires immediate action, but also requires long term, and often lifelong. therapy. Obviously a healthier lifestyle will come high on the list from any GP but this will not stop the problem of your snoring immediately, and sometimes does not succeed at all.

As well as recommending weight loss in overweight and obese patients, it recommends and approves the following treatments as it is recognised that weight-loss intervention alone will not achieve the desired objectives.

Medical Treatments and Clinical Recommendations for OSA

CPAP Mask wearer

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is recommended for more serious sufferers but it is readily identified that many patients reject this treatment for various reasons, particularly having to wear a mask for such long periods of time, claustrophobia, having a dry mouth, or the associated discomfort of the mask amongst others.
  • It is still however strongly recommended for chronic sufferers if acceptable.

Sweet dreams

  • Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD’s or Splints) are fully recommended as a primary treatment route and a strong option in many cases versus CPAP. They are more readily accepted than masks and have many distinct advantages over them including, ease of wear, instant results, high rates of effectiveness and also being inexpensive by comparison – even bespoke mouthpieces or the now available self-fit versions which are highly adjustable compared to the standard oral appliance – although this may be the best starting point.
  • Strongly recommended by ACP for less severe versions of OSA.

Snoring Surgery

  • Surgery however is not listed in the ACP’s summarized recommendations, but the guideline does specifically discuss its role as a treatment for OSA. It highlights that surgical procedures, which are intended for sleep-disordered breathing, are not as effective as either CPAP or using MAD’s. Currently success rates vary greatly and can be as low as 20%, as well as it sometimes requiring several procedures.
  • Not currently recommended by ACP to American Physicians.

More and more clinics, doctors and hospitals in the USA now recommend using oral appliance technology in the form of a mouthpiece to be used when sleeping and this is now becoming more accepted as a route here in the UK, particularly now that higher quality MAD’s are NHS Approved.

By John Redfern