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Snoring: Advice, Effects & Treatments

What is Snoring, what problems can it cause and how can you solve it?

Studies have shown that approximately 40% of the population of the industrialised countries snore and that this increases to 60% in men above the age of 60.

Most of the noises produced by snoring are generated by vibration of areas of the soft tissues. During sleep, there is a natural relaxation of the muscle tone in the neck and pharynx and the normal firmness of the tissues decreases, resulting in the formation of bottlenecks or even complete obstruction of the airways, especially when the patient lies on their back.

Due to this narrowing of the pharyngeal space, the required volume of air must be respired at a higher velocity to deliver the same quantity of air. This results in stimulation and vibration of soft tissues, such as the velum palatinum (soft palate) and the uvula.

It has been found that snoring can also be caused by external factors such as corpulence, alcohol or sedatives. A reduction or elimination of any of these may in mild cases be sufficient to remedy the condition.

OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA

Obstructive sleep apnoea is defined as a respiratory arrest (of more than 10 seconds).

Hypopnea is a decrease in the blood oxygen concentration in blood resulting from a reduction in the respiratory volume during sleep.

At a certain level of severity, this is serious condition that may cause not only sleepiness during the day but also serious secondary effects. The severity of the disease is assessed using the apnoea/hypopnea index, which is calculated by dividing the number of apnoea (longer than 10 seconds) and hypopnea episodes by the number of hours sleep. An index of up to 5 is considered normal, indices of 6-20 or 20-40 are indicative of moderate and sever sleep apnoea, respectively. The index can be determined only in a sleep laboratory.

Referral to a sleep laboratory is urgently indicated, if apnoea is suspected.

METHODS OF TREATMENT FOR SNORING

ORAL DEVICES

These devices are worn at night and usually operate by displacing the lower jaw forward in an anterior direction in order to achieve the opening of the pharyngeal section of the airways.

Acceptance rates can be as low as 2% but as long as the patient tolerates their use, these devices can be expected to be quite successful in curing the social problem that apnoea poses as well as obstructive sleep apnoea of up to moderate severity. The main reason for patient rejection of these appliances is because of their bulk.

BREATHING MASK

The breathing mask is used for positive air pressure respiration, keeping the airways open. The masks are effective even in severe apnoea cases and are considered the method of choice in these cases. However, the breathing mask must be set up and adjusted in the sleep laboratory. It is a vital piece of equipment although at times may prove inconvenient.

SURGERY

Usually surgery is used to remove respiration-impairing structures, such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids etc. Widely differing success rates of surgery in treating snoring have been reported (20-40%). Success in terms of the cure of Apnoea is unsatisfactory.

THE SILENSOR

The Silensor is one of the oral appliances which can be worn at night. Its biggest advantage being that it is non-bulky.

The success of the treatment is largely dependent on the patient’s acceptance of the appliance. Obviously, the depth of sleep and comfort of the patient will increase with the reduction in bulk of the appliance.

All these benefits are advantages of the Silensor.

Find out more about the Silensor Anti-Snoring device

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