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Sleep Clinic - solutions for snoring

SNORING IS A COMMON PROBLEM
It is estimated that more than 40% of adults snore.

Whilst the snorer is usually unaware of the problem, the loud snoring often causes the bed partner to suffer from disrupted sleep. This can be a cause of relationship breakdown and can make the bed partner irritable and tired on waking.

Snoring is a major symptom of a serious medical condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and whilst not all snorers have OSA, virtually all OSA patients snore!

OSA can lead to poor quality sleep and reduced supply of oxygen to the brain. It is associated with many serious medical conditions, can cause excessive daytime tiredness and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. OSA – THE FACTS More than 3% of women and 6% of men in the general population suffer from OSA.

Recent research shows that amongst people who snore the incidence of OSA can be as high as 50%.

The disease is as common as asthma and is nearly as common as diabetes. More than 90% of sufferers remain undiagnosed and untreated.

The incidence of OSA is rising as the general population becomes heavier.

Snoring is often considered to be ‘a bit of a joke’, but there is evidence that even simple snoring (without OSA) may be detrimental to your health.

WHAT CAUSES SNORING AND OSA

During sleep, the muscles of the upper airway relax and the airway narrows. This becomes more pronounced as we get older as general muscle tone decreases. It is worse if we are overweight due to increased fatty deposits in the neck or a large tongue, enlarged tonsils or a small/undershot lower jaw.

In some cases snoring can be made worse by a blocked nose, which forces the patient to mouth breathe, or by simply sleeping on your back. Both these actions encourage the tongue to fall back and obstruct breathing.

The turbulent airflow, within a relaxed, narrowed breathing tube, produces the noise that we recognise as snoring. If the airway is relaxed and/ or obstructed, it may collapse completely, leading to breath holding otherwise known as apnoea.

When this occurs the brain is suddenly alerted, sleep is disrupted, and the patient partially wakes then falls back to sleep.

In serious cases this cycle is repeated 50- 60 times per hour.  The majority of snorers are unaware of the consequences of OSA. Many patients with OSA suffer from other medical conditions will have received symptomatic treatment; often leaving the underlying cause (OSA) undiagnosed and untreated.

Recommended treatment depends on the severity of the OSA. You  may be advised on  certain lifestyle changes such as weight loss, cessation of smoking, avoidance of late evening alcohol and night time sedatives, as well as methods of preventing you rolling over onto your back whilst asleep. Investigation of nasal blockage and thyroid function tests may also be advised

OSA IS COMMONLY LINKED TO

  • Hypertension (High blood pressure)
  • Palpitations
  • Stroke
  • Insulin resistant diabetes
  • Heartburn
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness / lack of energy
  • Morning headaches
  • Depression and mood changes
  • Lack of sex drive and impotence

 

TREATMENTS FOR SNORING AND OSA

  • ‘Made to measure’ oral appliances made by a trained dental practitioner.  There are many different designs available.  You will be able advised which one will give you the best results     
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
  • Surgery

 

HOW DO ORAL APPLIANCES WORK

Oral appliances work by repositioning your lower jaw forwards whilst you are asleep. When the lower jaw is advanced the tongue is brought forward and the upper airway space is increased, making breathing easier and quieter.

Oral appliance. Pushing the lower jaw forward.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Please contact our reception team and ask for our home sleep assessment form and a consultation. During the consultation you will receive a thorough assessment of your teeth, gums and jaw joints prior to the provision of your oral appliance.  The dentist has an important role in screening for OSA as well as fitting and adjusting your oral appliance. If your dentist suspects that you are suffering from significant OSA you will either be asked to carry out an overnight sleep assessment or you will be referred for specialist diagnosis via your General Medical Practioner.

If an Oral appliance is fitted you will be advised to return for regular examinations to ensure that your appliance is functioning correctly and that your teeth, gums and jaw joints remain healthy.

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