Other Treatments for Snoring and Sleep Apnoea
The only scientifically-proven and consistently effective non-invasive treatments for snoring and sleep apnoea are oral sleep appliances and positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy.
However, there are many claims made for other forms of treatment for snoring and sleep apnoea, but unfortunately these may be invasive, are unproven, or do not work consistently, and can therefore ultimately leave patients disappointed.
Unproven or Ineffective Treatments for Snoring and Sleep Apnoea
This is a technique which involves retraining from breathing through the mouth to breathing through the nose. There is no available scientific evidence demonstrating that this method is effective in treating either snoring or sleep apnoea. This treatment is not being recommended by sleep physicians. There is a general concern that this treatment is being advocated for potentially serious conditions such as sleep apnoea as an alternative to safe, proven treatments such as oral sleep appliances and PAP therapy.
"Over the counter", non prescription, oral devices
Oral sleep appliances that are custom-made by a sleep health professional are proven to be effective, safe and comfortable. However, "over the counter", non prescription oral devices have now been banned from direct sale throughout the USA. The USA Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) has banned these devices because they are far less effective than custom made adjustable oral sleep appliances and because of the potential for side-effects such as teeth movement and jaw joint damage when patients try to treat themselves. These devices are non-adjustable, i.e. "one size fits all". Studies demonstrate that such devices are far less effective than custom-made adjustable oral sleep appliances provided by a professional. Available mostly for sale over the internet, via mail order and sometimes through pharmacies, not only do these devices have the potential to cause side-effects, they are generally bulky, uncomfortable and difficult for people to wear - even in the short term.
Nasal Strips, Pillows and Sprays
The Queen Victoria Sleep Studies Unit (QVSSU) in England recently conducted trials and published a report on the effectiveness of anti-snoring aids such as nasal strips, pillows, sprays and surgery. Overall, such aids prove to be of limited or no value. They concluded that nasal strips can give a subjective feeling that the nose is clearer and may help if the nostrils are small, but overall their efficacy is not impressive and they are of limited value. Regarding special pillows, the study concludes that the theory underlying their use is good, however in practice the pillows are not really effective.
Combining Lifestyle Changes with the Proven Treatments can Enhance Outcomes
For some people, making the following changes can enhance the outcome of treatment with an oral sleep appliance or PAP therapy.
If you are overweight, weight reduction may improve your snoring or sleep apnoea symptoms. Weight gain deposits fat into and around the soft palate, tongue and neck structures thereby increasing the severity of obstruction to breathing during sleep.
Elevating the head of your bed and avoiding sleeping on your back may be helpful.
Avoid drugs and habits that cause airway narrowing
Alcohol and many sleeping pills relax the muscles of the throat and can therefore worsen snoring and sleep apnoea. People who snore or have sleep apnoea should avoid alcohol for at least 3 hours prior to bedtime. Smoking and excessive caffeine intake can also worsen snoring and sleep apnoea.
Improve the amount and regularity of sleep
If at all possible, it is helpful to go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time every day. Ideally, you should try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Snoring and sleep apnoea is often worse for sufferers who are over-tired.
Adelaide Sleep Clinic
Helping people with snoring and sleep apnoea
Suite 3a Wellington Centre
2 Portrush Road PAYNEHAM 5070
ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Phone 13-000-SLEEP (13-000-75337) for an appointment