Snoring may be the subject of jokes, but the reality is it can bring married couples to the brink of divorce. Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon, Mr Sameer Khemani, at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley has advice on how to reduce and even eliminate this noisy annoyance that can work better than marriage counselling.
“Couples sometimes come to me when they are on the verge of divorce - by the time I see them they may have been sleeping in separate rooms for years. For some, they have tried all sorts of remedies. I had one patient who had even tried the common advice of sewing a tennis ball into the back of her pyjamas to stop her rolling onto her back at night.
Chronic habitual snoring affects almost half the adult population, although it is more common in men. Of these, one in ten people suffer from sleep apnoea and may stop breathing for several seconds while they are sleeping.
Depending what type of snorer you are, your snoring could be seriously affecting your health as well as your marriage.
There are some steps you can take to help reduce your snoring but if that still doesn’t work and your health is affected, seek medical advice.
You may be asked to undergo a sleep study where your body’s functions - eye movement, brain, heart, breathing – during sleep will be recorded. This will determine if you are suffering from sleep apnoea.
The snoring noise is caused by a partial blockage that may be located anywhere from the tip of the nose to the vocal cords. The key to successfully treating snoring is accurate diagnosis often aided by a procedure called a sleep nasal endoscopy.
In this procedure, a patient is sedated to a point where they begin to snore – they are not fully under sedation – and a camera is inserted into the nostrils to see where the blockage lies. It's an excellent way of identifying the exact problem so that effective treatments can be given. These may be as simple as a mandiblular advancement device, provided by an orthodontist, which helps moves the jaw forward and widen the airways. Alternatively, treatment could be surgery, which, in many cases, eliminates snoring for good.”
What type of snorer are you?
1. A simple snorer – you are not aware you snore (but your partner is) You might occasionally wake up and feel tired, but there’s no major sleep disturbance or marked health repercussions. Try the self-help tips (below).
2. The snorer with upper airways resistance syndrome – you will have disturbed sleep and feel tired, but there is not true obstruction and a sleep study doesn’t show reduction in oxygen levels in the blood. Try the self-help tips and treat nasal problems, like allergies, adequately.
3. Snorer with obstructive sleep apnoea - these snorers can wake feeling very tried and not refreshed due to episodes of obstruction that occur in their sleep. The lack of oxygen in the blood can affect blood pressure leading to increased risk of heart attacks or stroke. Seek medical advice.
To find out which type of snorer you are and how it is affecting your life try the Epworth Sleepiness Test - www.epworthtest.co.uk
ENT consultant Mr Sameer Khemani offers consultations at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital for snoring, sleep apnoea, and other ENT problems. To book an appointment, call 01293 778 906 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.