What's the best way to silence a snorer?
An NHS surgeon believes he’s come up with the answer.
Sleep disorders expert Professor Anshul Sama has invented a device that does the trick by zapping the culprit’s tongue with a tiny electric current.
The Snoozeal has worked in an impressive 70 per cent of cases in trials conducted in Britain and Germany.
And one of the first success stories was London pub landlady Louise Fitzpatrick, who runs the Tollington Arms near Arsenal’s Emirates stadium.
Her loud snoring began 10 years ago and got so bad she was relegated to the spare bedroom by her partner Martin Whelan.
Louise, 50, who had tried mouthguards and other over-the-counter anti-snoring remedies to no avail, said: “It really became a problem.
"Not only was it disturbing Martin, but the snoring was waking me up and leaving me tired.”
She was referred to an ear, nose and throat consultant and lined up for treatment to take away excess tissue at the back of her throat.
But while waiting for her op her surgeon offered her a place on the Snoozeal trial at University College London Hospital.
The flexible oral device – which fits into the base of the mouth – has to be worn for 20 minutes at any time of day for six weeks, not while you’re asleep.
It contains two electrodes that rest against the tongue on either side.
A tiny current is transmitted to the device by an app on your smartphone and passes into the tongue.
The current tightens up floppy muscles in the tongue and at the back of the throat often the major cause of snoring.
Louise said: “I was resigned to surgery but within a couple of weeks on the Snoozeal trial I started to notice a change.
And by the end of the six weeks I was hardly snoring at all.
“I was amazed. I’m now less tired and I no longer get complaints from Martin.”
Sufferers can check whether their snoring is improving because the app can record and track users’ sleep.
Backed by private and Government funding, Prof Sama, based in Nottingham, has been refining his invention for several years and hopes to launch it later this year.
He said: “Many devices on offer do not work and are unpopular because they have to be worn at night.
“Even surgery doesn’t always work and increasingly it is being rationed or even banned by the NHS to save money.
“So my aim was to develop something that could be used for a short period of time once during the day.”
Prof Sama said many women like Louise start to snore in middle age, with peri-menopausal and menopausal hormonal changes largely being blamed for slackening muscles in the throat.
The results of trials on hundreds of patients both male and female at UCLH and in Germany showed that even when snoring wasn’t eliminated, it was significantly reduced.
Prof Sama said: “There can be quite a number of factors that can cause snoring so you are never going to get 100 per cent success.
“The results of surgery are not very good and yet we are spending thousands on treating patients with an operation that can leave them in discomfort.”
Professor Bhik Kotchea, who ran the independent UCLH trial, said: “Snoring can affect younger people too and sometimes it is caused by the size of your tongue causing an obstruction.
But the patients liked it and the results were very encouraging.”
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