Snoring: Pulmonologists recommend weight loss, CPAP machine for treatment

By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko

A Consultant Respiratory Physician, Dr Emmanuel Adesokan, has recommended weight loss and use of devices such as Continuous Positive Airway (CPAP) machine as treatment measures for snoring.

Adesokan, of University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview that CPAP should be used by overweight individuals during sleeping at night to help force air into the airway.

According to him, snoring often indicates that there is obstruction in the upper airway during breathing, the most common being from big neck in overweight individuals.

The respiratory physician noted that in children, snoring could occur as a result of swelling inside the neck area from infection or malformation.

“The effects of snoring (while snoring itself is a symptom of obstruction) include: disturbed sleep, fatigue and sleepiness during daytime, and it is associated with developing hypertension and diabetes, among others.

“Snoring usually happens to people who are termed ‘overweight’ and have big necks.

“When you have a thick measure neck circumference greater than what it should be, you may likely have obstruction sleep challenge.

“Owing to the fat on the neck, the person will not have enough air to take in and out or to maintain the body at that time.

“Weight loss is a major modality for treatment because when an individual loses weight, he/she loses the neck fat and is much better,” he said.

For the category of people who snores because of how their mouths are shaped, Adesokan said there are devices which could be inserted in their mouths to allow air to pass in better.

“When weight loss takes a while to achieve, then CPAP machine can be used when sleeping.

“It is attached to the mouth and it pushes air into the airway so that the person will not be choked while sleeping.

“However, a sleep study test is important for one to be able to know the appropriate measure to use,” the respiratory physician said.

NAN reports that a Nigerian man recently died in India after he was compelled by his wife to do surgery so as to stop him from snoring.

Reacting to the incident, Dr Olusola Adeyelu, a Pulmonologist, Sleep and Critical Care Physician at Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abeokuta, said that there was no role for surgery in the treatment of snoring.

According to him, the major well-known treatment measure for snoring is the use of CPAP machine.

“If you do surgery, you are 96 per cent likely to come back to use CPAP machine.

“It was in the olden days when most people did not know the cause(s) of snoring that surgeries were done.

“The only area where surgery is important to solving snoring problem is what they call `bariatric surgery’, which is done to reduce the size of the person, not the neck.

“A person may be weighing 160kg and then you reduce it to 90kg; when the neck that used to be 160 is now made to be walking for 90, it will be more efficient.

“So there is no need to go outside the country to do surgery to treat snoring; anything about snoring treatment can be sorted out in Nigeria, as one can even order for the CPAP machine online,” he said.

To the pulmonologist, snoring is mostly about how air goes out.

“It is not usually curable, but one may be lucky to get over it with some lifestyles, such as fulcrum (adjusting the bed to be in a slanting way).

“This is a method of balancing things in a slanting position, whereby you raise the head of the bed with the foam, the leg part will be lower than the upper part; it is the cheapest and oldest style of solving snoring problem.

“Another way is to lie on your side, while the situation can also improve if one lies on the tummy,” he said.

Adeyelu compared snoring with a death sentence or something synonymous with cancer, adding that 80 per cent of men who snore have weak erection while some might not even have erection at all.

“When you snore, at a point, you stop breathing; if you have other underlying conditions, such as diabetes and kidney malfunction, a wrong electric current can pass through your heart and it stops working, and that ends the whole story about your life.

“Also, women who snore are prone to violence; anybody snoring is not sleeping; the person’s eyes maybe permanently closed but he/she is permanently awake and nobody can be permanently awake for many years without having any health damage.

“So many having high blood pressure could be as a result of snoring, and if it is not controlled, the person will continue to swallow drugs and still not be okay.

“So snoring is also a social problem that should not be taken lightly.

“The standard measure for snoring treatment is CPAP; it could be written in the book that surgery could be done but it is outdated now; the treatment is CPAP and other life adjustment solutions,” he said.

Adeyelu recommended that any individual experiencing snoring should see a sleep doctor or pulmonologist who would do necessary evaluation to know the severity of the snoring.

“The medical expert will be able to know if the snoring is mild, moderate or severe, find out if the person has structural problems or not and then determine the appropriate treatment,” he said. (NAN)