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Richmond residents can sleep easy during National Stop Snoring Week

 If you or someone you know snores, you’ll know how annoying a habit it can be.  Most of the time it’s harmless; but did you know that for around 4% of the population, snoring is symptomatic of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), causing interrupted sleep, and fatigue and contributing to the development of a host of other long-term conditions, including diabetes and hypertension. 

This summer, a new, community-based service to assess patients with snoring and suspected OSA will launch in Richmond– one of the first services of its kind in the country. Commissioned by Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the service will be delivered out of Teddington Memorial Hospital by provider, the Snoring Disorders Centre, London.

“OSA can have a huge life impact for the 1 in 15 sufferers who have a moderate-to-severe form of the condition: across Richmond, that equates to around 550 people” explains Dr Graham Lewis, local GP and Chair of Richmond CCG.  “At present, OSA is difficult for both patients and GPs to effectively manage due to difficulties in monitoring the condition.  The new service aims to improve on this through the introduction of new technology, empowering patients to better manage their own condition at home with support from the NHS in the community.  Our goal is to improve patient outcomes whilst also supporting GPs and other healthcare professionals by providing a route for patient referral that provides consistent, long-term support.” 

In patients with OSA, the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting and in some individuals totally obstructing the normal breathing pattern.  This leads to disordered sleep, and a number of symptoms, including:
• very loud snoring
• breath holding/struggling to breath at night(apnoea)
• daytime fatigue and drowsiness
• short-term memory loss
• multiple trips to urinate through the night
• early morning headaches
• loss of interest in sex.

Professor Ram Dhillon is a consultant ENT surgeons and Department of Health OSA advisors, and has played a leading role in the development of the new service alongside his colleague, Mr Michael Oko.  “OSA can have a significant impact on long-term health in addition to tiredness and fatigue.  Over a 12 year duration, if severe OSA is left untreated, 15% of sufferers will have a fatal complication, such as a stroke or heart attack and 33% will have a major event that leads to significant disability, such as heart disease.  Improving the management of OSA through this new service is critical in improving health and supporting a healthier Richmond for everyone.”

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, or if you have any concerns about your snoring, it’s worth having a chat with your GP to make sure.  Your GP can assess your symptoms and refer you to the Snoring/OSA service if necessary.

If you’re a snorer, or know someone who is, small lifestyle changes can make a big difference, such as:
• avoiding alcohol or smoking
• losing weight
• sleeping on your side; and avoiding sleeping on your back as much as possible
• elevating your head slightly on pillows
• removing anything that you might be allergic to from your bedroom and treating allergies effectively.

To keep your airways clearer, a specialist dentist can fit a mouth guard to help reduce snoring, but this should only be considered after a full medical evaluation of the upper airway Alternatively, anti -allergy nasal sprays are available over the counter or on prescription to help clear a blocked nose.

For more information on Sleep Apnoea, go to