Here's the last year's news. News for 2002 can be found in our archive. Also, check out our current newsletter, then subscribe
In the news:
December 20, 2003: Another reason to address your snoring -- especially if you also suffer from sleep apnea. A study at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne, to be published in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, monitored 55 patients with sleep apnea for three months. Patients treated with CPAP experienced improved heart function and a drop in stress-related hormones. Chief investigator Matthew Naughton said a third of heart failure patients also suffer from sleep apnea. Snoring could be as serious as smoking or diabetes in terms of heart disease risk factors, he is quoted as saying.
December 3, 2003 : Respironics has voluntarily recalled 5,293 ComfortGel nasal masks distributed from September 5-15, 2003 because some did not contain a built-in exhalation port. The exhalation port is required to allow exhaled air to properly exhaust. Without the exhaust port, patients could potentially re-breathe carbon dioxide, leading to decreased oxygen levels in the blood. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-345-6443.
October 21, 2003: In a carefully worded press release, Cephalon, Inc. announced that the FDA has approved the marketing of its drug PROVIGIL as a treatment for patients with obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome. Currently the drug is approved only for treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy. In July, r esearchers at the University of Illinois identified a different drug that may be effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea. Either way, good news, for those who are looking for an alternative to CPAP.
October 1, 2003: A study of some 3,000 5-year olds in Boston has pointed out just how common sleep disordered breathing (including snoring) is in young children. Sleep disorder symptoms were present in fully 25% of the children. Compared with children without snoring or other symptoms, children with sleep disordered breathing symptoms were significantly more likely to have parent-reported daytime sleepiness and problem behaviors, including hyperactivity, inattention and aggressiveness.
September 8, 2003 : Use of a Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea not only improves patients' lives, it can improve the lives of their bed partners, says a study published in the September issue of CHEST. The study found that when patients with OSA were treated with CPAP, the mental and physical health, and overall quality of life of patients and their bed partners significantly improved.
August 15, 2003 : A study of third-grade school children shows that those who "always" snore are significantly more likely than others to show poor academic performance. This was also true of those who snore "frequently" (according to their parents). The researchers comment that this effect is not so much related to a lack of oxygen as to disturbed sleep resulting from the snoring. Source : American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, August 15, 2003.
July 28, 2003 : Restore Medical has officially released the Pillar implant system, featured in our February newsletter. The company says a "number of physicians" in the U.S. now offer the procedure, which involves stiffening the palate by inserting small polyester cords. It will be some time before we can assess the long-term efficacy of this snoring solution, which will cost in the $1500 range.
July 10, 2003. Fresh from its successful action against the makers of Dr. Harris Original Snore Formula, The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced a proposed settlement with Wellquest International, whose infomercials for its anti-snoring spray Dsnore run on late-night TV channels. The defendants will pay $3.2 million in consumer redress and agree to possess scientific substantiation before making certain claims about dietary supplements, foods, drugs, or cosmetics. The order also covers breast enlargement and male virility products marketed the same way.
July 7, 2003: A study of 13 patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), a neurological disease almost always accompanied by severe sleep disorders, showed an apparent link between neurochemical levels and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). University of Michigan researchers report in the July 8 issue of the journal Neurology that patients with the lowest levels of acetylcholine-producing neurons in the brainstem had the most interruptions in their breathing during sleep. Although more research is needed, the implication is that raising acetylcholine levels in the brain may alleviate the symptoms of apnea.
June 20, 2003: Children with sleep disordered breathing are more likely to wet their beds, says a new research report in the Journal of Pediatrics. More than 40% of 160 children referred to the children's sleep center suffered from bed wetting (enuresis), far higher than the norm. Why? The authors speculate that kids with sleep apnea are so tired that they don't wake up when their bladders are full.
June 5, 2003: Researchers at the University of Illinois hope they have found the first effective drug treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. The drug, an antidepressant called mirtazapine, cut in half the number of times breathing stopped or slowed during sleep and reduced the number of times sleep was disrupted by 28 percent. All 12 patients who participated in the study showed improvement. Mirtazapine has not been approved in the U.S. for treatment of sleep apnea but apneacs desperate for relief and depressed from lack of sleep could perhaps ask their doctors to prescribe Remeron (the brandname for mirtazapine) as an anti-depressant.
April 22, 2003: People with chronic daily headache -- defined as 15+ headaches per month -- are more than twice as likely to also be chronic snorers than the people with occasional headaches, according to a study in Neurology. This is apparently true even after controlling for such apnea-related factor as body mass. As the authors point out, an interesting follow-up to this study would be to investigate whether controlling snoring will eliminate daily headaches.
April 15, 2003: The US Federal Trade Commission has won a consent decree from the manufacturers of Dr. Harris Original Snore Formula, a homeopathic cure for snoring that has spawned numerous re-branded products such as SnoreMD. The Snore Formula team, including the product's namesake Dennis Harris, MD, agreed that they will obtain "competent" scientific evidence before claiming their products will cure snoring and sleep apnea. The FTC is mainly concerned that those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea do not waste their time on remedies that will do nothing to ameliorate a condition known to be life-threatening. Anyone marketing the Original Snore Formula must state clearly that the product is not intended to treat apnea. Makers of other snoring cures should take note!
March 3, 2003 : If you've experienced how your children get more wound up the tired they get, you may understand how chronically tired children might be mis-diagnosed as ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). A new study published in this month's Pediatrics found that 26% of 5-7 year olds who showed signs of mild ADHD also snored and had symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Those with severe ADHD didn't snore any more than a "normal" control group of children. A tentative conclusion: before you drug your child to control his or her ADHD, attend to their sleep disorder first. You may find your child can focus a lot better when he or she is not sleepy!
January 28, 2003. Restore Medical Incorporated has received marketing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its Pillar Palatal Implant System. The Pillar is a one-inch long polyester cord that is implanted in the soft palate, stiffening it and reducing its tendency to vibrate noisily during sleep. In other words, this is a new, potentially less painful, method of curing snoring by stiffening the palate. Other methods of doing so include injection snoreplasty, radio-frequency tissue reduction, and surgical removal of tissue.
January 23, 2003. We didn't see any player falling asleep during the SuperBowl, but NFL players are several times more like to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, according to a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine. This is presumably because football players have large mass and thick necks -- both risk factors for apnea. But it's cause for concern that even young men in good physical condition are prone to this disease -- again pointing out that physicians need to be alert to sleep disorders in all types of patients.
January 13, 2003. The Edmonton (Canada) Journal asked four couples to try an anti-snoring throat spray. Only one reported success (i.e., the wife could sleep through the night in the same bedroom as her snoring husband). Not too surprising: snoring is a tough problem and while throat sprays are cheap enough to be worth a try, heavy snorers will probably need a heavier duty solution, perhaps even surgery. Try our questionnaire to see which type of remedy may work for you.
January 13, 2003. About 60% of sleep apnea sufferers also suffer from acid reflux, a painful stomach disorder. New research finds that CPAP, used to treat sleep apnea, also cuts the rate of acid reflux by 48%. A nice bonus, indeed!
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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