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Science
CHECK UP
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PROGRAMME INFO
Thursday 15:00-15:30
Check Up is your chance to talk to doctors about the health issues that most concern you and your family. Each week Barbara Myers is joined by a medical expert to take your calls and emails on a particular topic and give you the most up to date advice. No appointment necessary.
Call 0870 010 0444
Contact Check Up
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 30 March
PRESENTER
BARBARA MYERS
Barbara Myers
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 30 March 2006
Sleeping zeds!

Full programme transcript >>

Sleep Apnoea and Snoring

Guest: Prof Neil Douglas, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Director of the Scottish National Sleep Centre.

Snoring is anti-social – but did you know that it can be bad for your health?  A short jaw can affect the position of the tongue, creating a narrower throat space and restricting the flow of air. The characteristic noise of snoring is a result of vibrations in the area at the back of the nose and throat an din the voicebox. Obesity increases your risk of snoring.

Sleep Apnoea

If you snore heavily, and find it hard to stay awake during the day, you may be suffering from sleep apnoea, a condition in which the muscles of the throat become so relaxed that your breathing is obstructed. This may cause you to wake hundreds of times during the night and be so drowsy during the day that driving could be dangerous. The pauses between breaths can be up to a minute, but it's the frequency of them which causes the sleepiness. Untreated, sleep apnoea can lead to heart disease, stroke and erectile dysfunction. And in pregnancy it can affect the baby’s development.   Up to half of the patients seen in sleep clinics have sleep apnoea, and are diagnosed with a combination of a carefully taken history (including that of their partner, in a questionnaire if they can't attend) and tests. It's thought that up to though 2% of middle aged men are affected.

Once apnoea is diagnosed, there is an effective treatment, a device called CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), which was first developed in 1981. It acts by "splinting" the airway open, so it's no longer blocked. CPAP machines have been much improved over the years and are now much quieter and may have variable pressures and humidifiers.

Simple Snoring

There are an estimated 15 million snorers in the UK.  Snoring is almost as common in women as men. So-called "simple" snoring is commoner than apnoea, but more difficult to treat. There are plenty of adverts in newspapers and on websites for devices ‘guaranteed’ to stop you snoring!  But how do they work? The mandibular devices pull the lower jaw forward onto the upper jaw, so that there's more space at the back of the throat and breathing is easier. They are usually more effective if fitted by an expert orthodontist. Simple things like losing weight, not drinking alcohol or taking sedatives 4 hours before going to sleep can help.  There is little evidence to show that surgery - which was in vogue about 10 years ago - actually works.

Contact the Programme
Check Up is your opportunity to ask an expert about the condition. If you have a question, contact us by calling 0870 010 0444 from 1.30pm - 3.30pm on the day of broadcast or by emailing the programme - see 'Contact Check Up' link above.

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