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I’ve been snoring for years…can surgery cure me? DR MARTIN SCUR answers your health questions

I’ve been snoring for years…can surgery cure me? DR MARTIN SCUR answers your health questions

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I’m snoring—apparently loudly—but it’s not sleep apnea. 20 years ago I tried a septoplasty and it helped but I crashed my bike and broke my nose so the snoring came back.

I was offered another surgery but was told it was painful and might not work. Has anything changed in the snoring department since then? I’m 58, 5ft 8in, 11st and in really good shape – I cycle 15 miles a day.

Grog Fuchs, Woking, Surrey.

Snoring is often caused by obstructive sleep apnea, in which the tissues in the throat temporarily contract during sleep.

One of the main risk factors is weight gain, but on the 11th, that doesn’t apply to you, and indeed sleep apnea is ruled out (which is good news because it’s linked to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke).

Smoking and drinking too much alcohol are also known to increase the likelihood of snoring – smoking can cause blockage of the nasal passages and alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat – so cutting back on both can help.

Snoring is often caused by obstructive sleep apnea, where the tissues in the throat temporarily contract during sleep.

Sleeping on your side can also be helpful, as it can reduce the tendency for the tissue at the back of the palate, the soft palate, to contract and cause periodic obstruction. The air you exhale causes the tissue to vibrate, causing the sound of snoring.

The surgery you had all those years ago involves straightening the septum, the bony cartilage that separates the nostrils. A deviated (or twisted) septum is a common cause of snoring. Although this surgery is no longer so favored (there is a lack of evidence that improving the airways in both nostrils can help snoring), the fact that this initially worked for you suggests that the internal structure of your nose may be a factor .

I suspect the second surgery you were offered was a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), where the tissue at the back of the throat, often including part of the soft palate, is cut away.

While research shows that it can reduce the intensity of snoring, long-term studies have not confirmed this – the results do not seem to be consistent.

Considering that snoring is common, affecting more than 40 percent of men and almost 30 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60, is it important to seek a solution?

Considering that snoring is common, affecting more than 40 percent of men and almost 30 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60, is it important to seek a solution?

The potential complications and post-op pain, which is legendary, also preclude this surgery, so I feel like you were right to avoid it.

There are newer procedures, such as radiofrequency ablation, which use heat rather than a scalpel to reduce the volume of the soft palate.

It has been shown to be a safe and effective way to reduce snoring (with less post-operative pain than UPPP), although it is unclear how long the benefits last.

Palatal implants involve implanting polyester fibers into the soft palate to harden it. Although this also reduces snoring, the long-term results are again less certain.

As you can see, there is nothing magical or new that can easily resolve your symptom.

Considering that snoring is common, affecting more than 40 percent of men and almost 30 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60, is it important to seek a solution?

Until sleep apnea is ruled out, you may be advised to accept the situation.

My friend recently hit his head in the bathtub and has been having blurry vision, wobbles on his feet, and vomiting ever since. He refuses to go to hospital – what can I do?

Eloise Few, Notting Hill, London.

Your friend may need a CT scan of his head. The symptoms you describe—along with fatigue, dizziness, loss of balance, mood swings, and slurred speech—may indicate underlying brain damage.

Even a minor blow to the head can cause problems such as concussion, intracranial hematoma (when a blood vessel ruptures and blood collects in the tissues) and cerebral contusion (a localized bruise in the brain).

Much depends on his age – the brain tissue of the elderly is more susceptible to damage even from a minor blow.

Your friend may need a CT scan of his head.  The symptoms you describe—along with fatigue, dizziness, loss of balance, mood swings, and slurred speech—may indicate underlying brain damage

Your friend may need a CT scan of his head. The symptoms you describe—along with fatigue, dizziness, loss of balance, mood swings, and slurred speech—may indicate underlying brain damage

If symptoms persist, especially if his mood changes or he continues to be unsteady on his feet, try to convince him to seek medical advice.

I am almost 80, very healthy and work in the laundry room of a nursing home. I’m 5ft 2in and have always been very thin but I’m currently around 7st and I’m worried I might be too thin as everyone seems to think I’m sick.

Madeline Kelly, East Sussex.

Your body mass index, a number that combines weight and height, is on the lower end of the healthy range – so I see no cause for concern.

But there are things you can do if you’re worried.

In your longer letter you say that you have always had a poor appetite and have been active.

Add to that sarcopenia—the inevitable and gradual loss of muscle over time (after age 30, you lose between 3 and 5 percent of muscle each decade), which will inevitably lead to weight loss, since muscle is three times – heavier than fat.

You can minimize this muscle loss by eating more protein – meat, fish and eggs – and exercising regularly. Omega-3 fatty acids also stimulate muscle growth; oily fish such as canned mackerel or sardines are a good source.

In terms of exercise, try lifting weights of around 2kg to 3kg for 30 minutes three times a week.

Write to Dr. Scurr

Write to Dr Scurr at Good Health, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email: [email protected] — include contact details. Dr. Scurr cannot enter into personal correspondence. Answers should be taken in general context. Consult your own personal physician for any health concerns

In my opinion… Give tax relief for GP fees

The Prime Minister was widely criticized for initially refusing to say whether he had a private GP.

He finally told the House of Commons that he did in fact have an NHS GP – three days after deflecting the question during an interview. I really don’t understand his reluctance to reveal this.

We are all entitled to pay for medical care outside the NHS and many do – cosmetic surgery is a prime example.

Margaret Thatcher did not hesitate to use a private GP, as did the Pope when he visited the UK in 1982 (that private GP was me!). In my private practice I have also seen Labor MPs and peers who have no problem walking out of the NHS, despite their professed ideology.

When I was a house surgeon at Westminster Hospital in 1972, Marcia Falkender, secretary to the Labor leader Harold Wilson, was treated in our ward in a private room.

Harold Wilson’s government later decided to abolish paid beds in NHS hospitals.

Whatever his own position, Rishi Sunak should allow tax relief on the cost of GP appointments to reduce pressure on the NHS.


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