SNORING. It's an unwelcome bed mate yet an estimated one million Australians do it, with many more suffering the consequences, including sleep deprivation, irritability, and in some cases it can destroy a relationship.
According to The Snore Clinic, snoring is created by the vibration of the tissues lining the air passages and in most patients there are multiple factors leading to the condition.
These include narrowing or blockage of the upper airway passages through anatomical shape or injury as well as factors contributing to congestion of the soft tissues of the airways, e.g. smoking, alcohol, acid reflux from the stomach affecting the throat tissues, obesity, ageing and hormonal factors.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), a condition where suffers stop breathing for a short time during sleep, is thought to affect about 5% of the population.
People who are either overweight or obese are more likely to have sleep apnoea because their airways were more easily blocked.
It affects more than just sleep. It has also been linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Woolcock Institute of Medical Research chief investigator Dr Nathaniel Marshall said the disease interrupted a person's nightly slumber so severely in some cases it destroyed any chance of leading a normal life.
"One of the problems with sleep apnoea is many people who have it are sleepy all the time, and so they struggle to interact with family and friends and jobs," Dr Marshall said.
"It can really get in the way of all those things that make life worth living."
The institute study is trialling a new drug that improves wakefulness, and combines that medication with a fitness and diet regimen to improve overall health.
Results of the trial so far have been promising, with participants reporting improved quality of life and consistent weight loss.
"It's snoring that gets so bad it actually chokes off the airway," Dr Marshall said.
There are a number of recognised risk factors for OSA. These include:
- Male gender
- Increasing age
- Body Mass Index > 30
- Neck circumference > 42 cm
- Enlarged tonsils
- Sleeping tablets
Source: Australasian Sleep Association www.sleep.org.au
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