Here are 2002's top news stories for snoring sufferers. 2001 news can be found in a separate archive.
In the news:
December 20. Scottish researchers have found that the upper airways narrow when women are in their third trimester of pregnancy, which may be why they are more likely to snore. Women with preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening pregnancy complication, have even narrower airways -- and are more likely to snore. But the researchers held back from suggesting that snoring may be a cause of preeclampsia.
November 21, 2002: A Michigan train wreck that killed two men last year was caused by the fatigue of two crew members who were suffering from severe sleep apnea, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The engineer and conductor had been diagnosed before the accident with obstructive sleep apnea by their private physicians and had not been successfully treated. The two men fell asleep while traveling in a wooded area near Clarkston, MI on Nov. 15, 2001, and did not see a stop signal or the lights of an oncoming train. A possible moral of this story for our readers: Just like you shouldn't drink and drive, if you have obstructive sleep apnea, you have some moral obligation to seek medical treatment before you drive (or operate a train).
November 16, 2002: A French study published in November's Laryngoscope provides new evidence that temperature-controlled radiofrequency ablation--sometimes known as somnoplasty or coblation -- applied to the soft palate can reduce snoring. Twenty-nine patients who were evaluated as having their airways obstructed by the soft palate were tested for snoring and daytime sleepiness before and after treatment. Mean snoring level decreased significantly from 8.6 +/- 1.3 to 3.3 +/- 2.5 on a visual analogue scale (0-10). Daytime sleepiness decreased nonsignificantly.
November 15, 2002: The volume of gray matter in the brains of patients with obstructive sleep apnea was found to be reduced by up to 18 percent compared with normal controls, according to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. A reasonable theory is that the OSA patients' brain damage is caused by the disease and is related to reduced oxygen intake. But this study suggests that the brain condition comes first and is actually the cause of the OSA. The same condition may cause stuttering. (A summary of the article appears here).
October 29, 2002: St. Jude Medical of Little Canada, MN, has launched an FDA-approved study to see whether pacemaker patients with identified sleep apnea/hypopnea can benefit from having their pacemakers run faster during sleep. This builds on preliminary research reported earlier this year. St. Jude expects to test 120 subjects and have the result by year-end.
October 22, 2002: People who begin snoring in middle age can probably blame the reduced muscle tone that affects most of the muscles of our body, especially those that keep our stomachs flat. A British singing teacher, Alise Ojay, made the connection between singing and fit throat muscles and wondered whether singing exercises could reduce snoring in middle-aged patients. Early results are encouraging, she reports in ENT News (Sept/ Oct 2002; Vol 11; No 4: 64-5, not available online) and she has gone on to produce a three-CD set of exercises called Singing for Snorers.
October 21, 2002: In the "nice money if you can get it" category, Stanford University has won a $10m grant from the National Institutes of Health for an "Apnea Positive Pressure Long-Term Efficacy Study," to study the long-term effects of using CPAP to treat sleep apnea. Can there be any doubt that the findings will be positive?
October 17, 2002 : An Italian study of 416 patents, half of whom had suffered a stroke, has found that 40.5% of stroke patients were habitual, heavy snorers, compared to 29.8% of the healthy control group. Only a few stroke patients had sleep apnea. "This is important as it shows that not only sleep apnea, but also snoring, the kind that can be heard in the next room, can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, putting people at risk of strokes." the researchers commented.
October 3, 2002: Here's another reason to check your kids before you go to bed. Are they snoring? That's a warning sign that they're not getting enough oxygen and this could lead to lower grades, say researchers in Germany. Professor Christian Poets from the University of Tuebingen studied 1100 children aged 12 and 13 and concluded: "Those children who snore during the night have significantly lower marks in subjects such as Math and English than children who do not."
September 23, 2002: A truck driver diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea was found liable in a $5m lawsuit on behalf of the children of a state trooper killed in a crash along Interstate 40 in Tennessee. Engum had reportedly been warned of the dangers of apnea but had not submitted to treatment. He pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and aggravated assault and was sentenced to a year in jail.
August 20, 2002 : Hospitals may not need to build a sleep clinic to offer polysomnograms. Sleep Solutions, Inc. has introduced a complete home based testing solution -- both the monitoring device and back-end analysis software -- that enables health care organizations to test patients at home. The company claims to have delivered their product to a health care facility and initiated testing for 100 patients in just three days. "It would take a typical sleep lab months to handle that kind of testing volume."
August 5, 2002: If you live in the Atlanta area of the United States, consider signing up for a study that will look into the usefulness of a lubricating spray as a remedy for snoring. The study is being conducted by Advance ENT Associates PC. Participants will be paid.
June 30, 2002 . Two separate studies in a Belgian journal report on the effectiveness of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) and surgery of the nasal valve to remove nasal obstruction. Of 57 UPPP patients, the success rate was 53% after five years. The patients average snoring score was down by 36%. This reinforces the general view that throat/uvula surgery provides some relief for snoring sufferers but the benefits wear off over time in many patients. The results were better for those who had nose surgery. Snoring was "substantially decreased for all but one of the 29 patients.
June 21, 2002 : Those of us with excessive daytime sleepiness will feel for the juror in Kansas City who kept falling asleep and snoring so loudly that the judge eventually called a mistrial.
May 22, 2002: Obstructive Sleep Apnea may "contribute" to blood clots, say researchers in Europe who tested 68 of 72 patients whom they treated for pulmonary embolism or deep venous thrombosis. Of the 68, Forty-three patients (63%) had an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) greater than 15, indicating moderate-to-severe OSA. Interestingly, the 43 with apnea were not more overweight than those without apnea, they did not snore more, nor did they report greater daytime sleepiness.
April 15, 2002: Laser surgery may not work for snoring and apnea. That's the news from a clinic in Israel, which reports on 26 patients with obstructive sleep apnea who underwent laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty. On balance, only 58% were satisfied. Within a few years, the apnea and snoring were back for many of the patients, sometimes worse than ever. The doctors suggest that the laser causes scarring at the back of the throat that can narrow the airways and make the throat too rigid.
April 1, 2002 : The American Academy of Pediatrics has published guidelines recommending that all children's routine checkups should include questions about snoring for signs that the child may suffer from sleep apnea. This disorder causes tiredness, which may make children act up or have learning difficulties. Surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids is usually an effective treatment .
April 2002 : There may be a link between sleep problems and attention deficit disorders, according to findings in Pediatrics. Researchers found that 22 percent of children who were frequent snorers had high attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) scores, compared with 12 percent of children who were infrequent snorers.
March 10, 2002: More bad news for even primary snorers: you're more likely to develop diabetes. Even if you're not overweight. A study of 70,000 women who answered questions over the course of 10 years found that those who snored frequently were twice as likely to develop diabetes as those who didn't. Here's a potential explanation: snoring can impair the proper intake of oxygen, which may trigger the body to produce higher levels of compounds known as catecholamines. This increase may lead to insulin resistance, a known precursor of diabetes.
February 15, 2002 : The evidence piles up: if you suffer from daytime sleepiness or snoring, you are statistically more likely to have a stroke. At this week's American Stroke Association's Conference, researchers reported on the connection between snoring, sleep duration and daytime sleepiness with stroke in 1,348 adults in Buffalo, New York. The snorers and sleepyheads were far more likely to have had a stroke or transient ischemic attacks.
February 7, 2002 : Can heart drugs help reduce sleep apnea? An interesting study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine studied the effect of adjusting apnea patients' pacemakers to kick in at a higher rate (70 beats a minute). On this higher setting, the number of apneic episodes was significantly reduced. This finding provides some hope that OSA can be treated with drugs which quicken the heart.
February 6, 2002 : Reuters reports on a study from Oxford, UK, which indicates that some snoring and sleep apnea may be hereditary, relating to being born with a narrow throat. The study compared children who had had their tonsils out at a young age with those who had not. The children who had had tonsillectomies were still more likely to show signs of sleep apnea, suggesting that they may have a narrow throat persisting into adulthood.
January 19, 2002 : British researchers have confirmed that treating your sleep apnea will reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. To be more exact, their study showed that use of CPAP devices reduced the blood pressure of apnea patients by an amount that the doctors say translates to 20% reduction in the risk of a stroke and 15% lower risk of a coronary "event" such as heart attack. Presumably the benefits come from treating sleep apnea, not necessarily from the specific treatment method. The study is in the Jan 19, 2002 issue of The Lancet.
Latest statistics: Any thinking adult has a healthy skeptism of statistics, but we need them nonetheless to make sense of our world. Our snoring statistics page collects research as well as the data points commonly used by the experts and would-be experts.
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