The UK is in the midst of a snoring epidemic and it’s the non-snorers who are suffering.

Approximately 50 per cent of the UK’s population snore so chances are you either snore or sleep with an offender.

What’s more, around five per cent of the population suffer from sleep apnoea – a fatal form of snoring where you can stop breathing for minutes at a time.

To find out how we can stop snoring and how to look out for signs of sleep apnoea, we spoke to Professor Bhik Kotecha, Consultant ENT Surgeon at Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London.

What is snoring and who is more prone to it?

Professor Kotecha said: “Snoring is a noise caused by turbulent airflow, so if there is any obstruction to the airflow within the inside of the nose (e.g. deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, allergic rhinitis such as hayfever) or large adenoids or throat (e.g. large tonsils or a floppy soft palate or long uvula) then that would contribute to snoring.”

Professor Kotecha explained that alcohol, smoking and being overweight can also be linked to snoring.

Is there any way to stop snoring?

Professor Kotecha told the Standard: “In children it is usually due to large tonsils and adenoids and surgery for this has very good result.

“For adults, simple lifestyle changes such as weight loss, cutting down on alcohol, not having very heavy meals late at night, not sleeping on your back may help. Medication for the nose especially antihistamine and nasal steroid sprays for hayfever may also help.”

He also recommends nasal clips (Nozovent, £14.99; britishsnoring.co.uk), nasal strips (Breathe Right, £5.99; superdrug.com)and oral appliances (Snoreeze Snoring Relief Oral Device, £38.99; boots.com).

What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnoea?

Of the 50 per cent of British adults that snore, around 10 per cent have sleep apnoea.

“Patients with sleep apnoea will stop breathing periodically for a few seconds and would thus have oxygen deprivation which can have a detrimental effect on the body if left untreated,” Professor Kotecha said.

“Untreated sleep apnoea can increase the incidence of heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, cognitive impairment/dementia and road traffic accidents.”

What are the major symptoms of sleep apnoea?

Professor Kotecha explained: “Patients with sleep apnoea may present with intrusive snoring and sometimes have crescendo snoring followed by apnoeic or breath-holding episode. Sometimes partners notice the apnoea or gasping/choking sensation. They may be very restless at night and may sweat excessively and wake up frequently to urinate.

“The sleep apnoea patients have a fragmented sleep so feel un-refreshed first thing in the morning and may wake up with a headache. They feel very tired and sleepy during the day time and can doze off quite easily. To distinguish between simple snoring and snoring with sleep apnoea, one would need to have a sleep study for confirming the diagnosis.”

How can you treat sleep apnoea?

For moderate or severe sleep apnoea the recommended first line treatment is the use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. This is a machine which pumps air through a mask you wear at night.

This can be difficult to use so many patients seek alternatives like surgery but in sleep apnoea cases surgery may be more radical and aggressive compared to surgery for simple snoring.

If you have any of the symptoms of sleep apnoea, please make an appointment with your GP.

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