Sleepless in Somerset

Dr Justin Pepperell, a consultant with Nuffield Health Taunton Hospital, offers hope to snorers and those suffering with obstructive sleep apnoea

Dr Justin Pepperell, a consultant with Nuffield Health Taunton Hospital, offers hope to snorers and those suffering with obstructive sleep apnoea

Snoring is a common problem affecting about one in three middle-aged men and women. Dealing with snoring can be frustrating whether at home, on holiday or away on business. Snoring often leads to tensions within a relationship as sharing a bed with a snorer may lose you up to an hour’s sleep every night. 

Snoring is the noise caused by turbulent air flow and tissue vibration, similar to a loose sail flapping in the wind. Snoring commonly occurs at the floppy soft palate at the back of the mouth. A number of factors contribute to snoring including weight, nasal obstruction, enlarged tonsils, high alcohol use or sedatives, and smoking. Whilst these can be addressed, often the snoring may persist. Commonly, sufferers have tried a number of over-the-counter preparations, like nasal strips, but to little effect. 

Snoring may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea, where the upper airway closes off during sleep, stopping breathing for ten seconds or more. This disrupts sleep and leads to daytime sleepiness. Symptoms of sleep apnoea include waking with your own snoring or choking, witnessed breathing pauses, morning headaches, frequent passing of urine at night, and sleepiness. It is associated with a number of cardiac risks including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke, and treatment can reduce these.

The Nuffield Health Taunton Hospital provides a thorough assessment of all sleep conditions including snoring and sleep apnoea, with a formal consultation to assess your symptoms and an examination of your airway, before completing a simple portable sleep study in your own home. Based on the findings, it can offer a comprehensive range of treatments for snoring and sleep apnoea including jaw repositioning splints, continuous positive airway pressure therapy, nasal and tonsillar surgery, and a new minimal invasive procedure to cure snoring. This procedure, the ‘Pillar’ procedure, is performed in the consulting room and requires only local anaesthetic, and takes approximately 30 minutes. It causes minimal pain and discomfort and patients typically return to normal diet and activities the same day.

Clinical trials have shown snoring improves in about 65% of patients, allowing a much better quality of life and reduced daytime sleepiness. Both patients and bed partners report high satisfaction (80%-90%) with the procedure and, long term, most patients’ snoring remains improved at 18 months.

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If you are concerned about your snoring, have noticed daytime sleepiness or would like to be assessed for a sleep disorder, ask your GP to refer you to Dr Justin Pepperell at the Nuffield Health Taunton Hospital. 

For more information contact Mrs Jill Murray at Nuffield Health Taunton Hospital on 01823 286991

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