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