NHS Choices lists obesity as the first cause of snoring on their website; a noise that is caused by the vibration of the soft tissue in your head and neck as you breathe in. While you are asleep, the airways in your neck and head relax and narrow. It is thought the narrowing of the airways increases the speed at which you are breathing out, and it changes the air pressure in your airways. This causes the soft tissue to vibrate by sucking the sides of the airways in. It is something that we know will worsen over time.
As so few people like to admit that they snore, or may not know because they live alone, then many cases are undiagnosed and it is difficult to assess the number of total sufferers, although estimates are as high as 50% of men, and are only 10% lower for women – but fast catching up. So how can we obtain detailed information on this snoring epidemic; perhaps through the very accurate figures the Health Service has on obesity levels.
Obesity figures may show us the main areas in the UK for snoring, with some shocking new results defining that more than three-quarters of people in some areas are overweight or obese. This new league table of the country’s fattest towns and cities from Public Health England, has revealed in stark detail the extent of the country’s obesity problem detailing the fattest and thinnest parts of England – and perhaps the noisiest at nightime too.
Surprisingly some, such as Copeland in The Lake District, are in or near beautiful rural areas where one would think to find some of our fittest citizens. Meanwhile, the ‘thinnest local authorities’ include many in London, such as Kensington and Chelsea (45.9%) and Richmond upon Thames (47.6%). Nine of the top ten thinnest are in our capital city.
As we already know of the previously established close relationship between snoring and being overweight, it is more than likely that these incredibly startling obesity figures also reflect the pattern of snoring in the UK.
Public Health England have published the figures in a number of different ways that underline the clear regional pattern of the problem; something that could possibly highlight the key areas that the NHS should target for stop snoring solutions. This would be something that may well save many lives, and save the public purse a lot of money in the NHS budget.
A reason for the increase, along with changing lifestyle patterns and convenience/fast food, may also be that because snoring leaves you poorly rested and suffering from fatigue, that you are less likely to exercise and be active, so perpetuating the problem on a daily basis; the inactivity causing weight gain over a period of time.
The effects on our health are extraordinary with recent surging increases in diabetes and cardiovascular problems in particular as a result of this, both of which are life threatening and cost the NHS billions each year. Diabetes in particular is growing as a problem – one in 17 now have a diabetic problem. In 7 years the total has increased by one million to over 3.2 million sufferers, with an estimated 850,000 still undiagnosed.
£14 billion a year is spent by the NHS on diabetes – 10% of their total budget.
Stopping snoring and reducing weight at the same time can go a long way to reducing this amount and slashing the number of sufferers afflicted. The first is easy, and can be done with an inexpensive oral appliance overnight – the weight loss takes time and application.