Perhaps you’re reading this after suffering yet another night of disturbed sleep thanks to snoring. It is estimated that between a third and a half of the UK population snores – perhaps even as many as 30 million people.The noise we associate with the problem is generated by vibration, as air rushes past the slack tissues in the mouth, nose or throat.
Although the Daily Mail only evaluated 6 snorers in total for this lead article in the newspaper, it was done extremely thoroughly and it has produced some interesting conclusions and recommendations.
The project was carried out on their behalf by a leading authority, Dr Guy Leschziner, who is currently a sleep physician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, and also at London Bridge Hospital Sleep Centre.
“The classic image of the snorer is the overweight older man, but it affects everyone, Snoring is viewed as a bit of a joke – but for many people it can have a major impact on their health, as well as causing marital strife, It can also induce real anxiety in single people because they worry their snoring will put new partners off.”
“The problem is many people don’t really know what provokes their snoring.”
He goes on to describe all the possible key triggers that may be instrumental in someone snoring heavily, and there are many – including a thick neck with extra fat, sleeping on your back, a deviated septum, an allergy or cold, and numerous lifestyle factors such as alcohol, sleeping pills and obesity.
He emphasises how serious the health consequences of snoring can be, and how important it is to find the appropriate treatment for each individual – and proceeds to evaluate 6 persistent snorers as an example of this.
The six persistent snorers were put through a ‘snoring MOT’ to establish the cause — this included a nasal endoscopy, where a flexible tube with a camera is inserted through the nostril, and a sleep apnoea test to measure how many times they stop breathing in an hour. A score of 10 is classified as sleep apnoea.Candidates were also assessed for daytime sleepiness.
Dr Leschziner and Miss Elfy Chevretton, an ear, nose and throat consultant, analysed the results, giving a fascinating insight into this universal problem.
Each of the named participants had their lifestyle and problem examined in detail, right down to their height, weight, and resultant BMI – and an expert analysis was made for each one of them. This uncovered contributory problem areas such as narrowed nasal passages, a deviated septum, a broken nose, short oversized neck, large tonsils and even a cat allergy – all of which were major contributors to the problem of snoring in each case.
A suggested treatment followed that was based on their full case analysis and the recommendations varied according to each individual’s problem, including surgery in one case, where there had been a badly broken nose.
Some were advised to stop smoking, lose weight, or make other sensible lifestyle adjustments that were part causes to the condition.
Most of them had some level of sleep apnoea where the CPAP method is the usual recommendation but of course many individuals find this hard to maintain due to either claustrophobia, or one of the several side effects involved. Current opinion is that where CPAP is difficult for the sufferer to use then they should use a mouthpiece instead, as this is preferable as next option and will help the problem without the side effects. For some it was also suggested they should try a chin strap if that suited them better due to having an open mouth whilst sleeping.
In the case of sufferers who had jaw problems, for whatever reason, the mouthpiece was the first recommendation each time, and in one case, that of overbite, a custom device was suggested instead of surgery.
All the individuals had different problems and different causes but the recommendation was always the same – do something about it.
The key recommendation to all snorers was to stop ignoring the problem and to either take specialist advice, or get treatment in one form or another, or to do both.
It can, and will save lives – yours if you are the one who snores.
By John Redfern