The pill to stop snoring: Once-a-night tablet eases the symptoms of sleep apnoea
- Obstructive sleep apnoea can cause heavy snoring and interrupted breathing
- Two million people in Britain are thought to be affected by its symptoms
- Clinical trials suggest a night-time pill may ease these problems by 74 per cent
A Pill taken at bedtime could stop snoring for good.
The new tablet eases the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) — which affects up to two million people in Britain, causing heavy snoring and, sometimes, interrupted breathing.
Initial results from clinical trials suggest the night-time pill may ease these problems by up to 74 per cent.
Both men and women can get OSA, but it is most common in men over the age of 40; obesity is one of the main risk factors. It occurs when the muscles in the airway, which naturally relax as we fall asleep, completely collapse.
The snoring sound is caused by air being forced through a smaller gap in the throat and, when the muscles collapse completely, this can shut off breathing for ten seconds or more.
The new tablet eases the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) — which affects up to two million people in Britain. Pictured: A man wears a sleep apnoea mask (file photo)
When the brain realises breathing has stopped, it sends out a signal to contract the airway muscles, which normally makes the person wake with a jolt.
In severe cases, sleep can be disturbed every couple of minutes.
Treatments usually include lifestyle changes such as losing weight, cutting down on alcohol, sleeping on your side, and using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, a mask worn over the face during sleep that gently forces air into the lungs to stop the airway from collapsing.
However, some people find the mask cumbersome and research suggests nearly a third never use the device, or abandon it. A once-a-day pill is seen by some sleep experts as the Holy Grail of sleep apnoea treatment.
The new tablet, currently code-named AD109, contains two existing medications.
The first, atomoxetine, has been around for nearly 20 years and is widely used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, by increasing levels of a brain chemical called noradrenaline, which helps to improve concentration.
A once-a-day pill is seen by some sleep experts as the Holy Grail of sleep apnoea treatment (file photo)
U.S. scientists developing the new pill believe noradrenaline also stimulates the release of cells, called motor neurons, that keep airway muscles in good condition — reducing the risk of them ‘collapsing’ during sleep.
The other drug, oxybutynin, is usually prescribed to patients with urinary incontinence, stopping embarrassing leaks by reducing spasms in muscles that control the bladder.
In the throat and airway, oxybutynin is thought to act on receptors that make the muscles controlling the tongue contract — effectively holding it in place, rather than blocking the throat and causing snoring.
Neither of these drugs is currently used to treat OSA, but a 2018 study, by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, U.S., in which the two drugs were given at the same time to 20 snorers, revealed a powerful effect after just one night.
Some patients went from suffering an average of nearly 30 breathing interruptions an hour to just seven — a drop of 74 per cent – with symptoms improving from the first night in some cases.
Patients’ blood oxygen levels — important for heart and brain function — also increased significantly as they were able to get more air into their lungs.
Now a U.S. firm, called Apnimed, has combined these two medicines into one capsule and is setting up a clinical trial.
However, the treatment may not be without risks. Oxybutynin can cause dry eyes, stomach cramps and drowsiness; while atomoxetine has been linked with depression and suicidal thoughts in some children given it for ADHD.
Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert and a member of the British Sleep Society, says: ‘These are interesting preliminary findings and the reduction in symptoms is very promising.
‘But more research is needed to see if the effect is sustained.’
Why you might get more tummy troubles in winter
Stomach aches appear to peak in winter, according to a study in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology.
Researchers from the Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland analysed more than 24 million Google searches made over four years and found that enquiries about abdominal pain and related conditions such as vomiting increased by around 30 per cent in winter compared to summer.
Heavier meals and spending more time on the internet during the winter months may partly explain the rise.
Eating seaweed weekly might reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by almost 20 per cent, according to a study by Tianjin Medical University in China.
Anti-inflammatory chemicals in seaweed may ward off the disease, in which severe inflammaton can lead to liver cancer.
Yes, DIY masks made from cloth will protect you!
Homemade face masks are effective at blocking droplets that may carry the Covid-19 virus, according to a new study by the University of Illinois.
Researchers tested 11 common household fabrics used to make masks, such as bed sheets and dishcloths, and compared their breathability and ability to block droplets with medical masks.
Writing in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters, they found that the materials were all effective at blocking 100nm-sized particles — the size of a coronavirus particle — carried by high-velocity droplets similar to those released by speaking, coughing and sneezing.
New way to speed up metabolism
Could scientists have found the secret to speeding up metabolism? Research published in the journal Cell Metabolism has revealed a new way to activate brown fat — a type of body fat which burns energy.
This fat is normally activated by either cold temperatures or chemical signals sent from the brain. Researchers from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada discovered it contains proteins called beta 2-adrenergic receptors, which stimulate the burning process.
They will now use a drug to find out if turning on these proteins could help boost people’s metabolism.
‘Vaccine’ for cancer could be on the horizon
A new cancer vaccine is showing promise. Tests on animals reveal the immune system is able to successfully identify tumours after the CLEC9A-WT1 jab is given.
The vaccine, which contains antibodies mixed with a protein specific to tumours, revs up the body’s immune response, allowing it to recognise cancer cells and destroy them. It may work on a range of cancers, including breast and pancreatic, the journal Clinical and Translational Immunology reports.
Finger length link with dementia risk
Finger size offers a clue to a woman’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by the University of Southern California. Generally, men have shorter index fingers than ring fingers, while women’s are the same length.
The study found women with ‘masculine’ finger ratios are less likely to develop the disease than those with a ‘feminine’ ratio. This ratio is a marker of exposure to hormones in the womb and the results suggest that women who are exposed to more testosterone, or lower levels of oestrogen before birth, may be less likely to get dementia.
VEG IN DISGUISE
Sneaky ways to add veg without anyone noticing.
This week: Mashed potatoes with celeriac, carrots and swede. This recipe counts as two of your five-a-day per serving.
Mashed potatoes with celeriac, carrots and swede
Method: Peel and chop 400g potatoes and 225g each of swede, celeriac and carrot. Boil in a large pan of water until very soft, then drain.
Mash with a potato masher or use a ricer if you prefer a smoother texture. Season with salt and pepper, add a drizzle of olive oil and a tablespoon or two of Greek yoghurt. Serve straight away
Make nasal rinses and mouthwash part of your daily routine — a new study in the Journal of Medical Virology suggests this could help reduce transmission of viruses such as Covid. U.S. researchers tested household products such as baby shampoo (1 per cent, made up with water) as a nasal rinse, and mouthwashes, and found they could inactivate coronaviruses.
Secrets of an A-list body…
Alesha Dixon wowed onlookers recently in a bright yellow mini dress
HOW to get the enviable physiques of the stars.
This week: Alesha Dixon’s legs.
Alesha Dixon wowed onlookers recently in a bright yellow mini dress that showed off her toned legs.
The 42-year-old mother of two and judge on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent recently said she had completed a 12-week challenge of three workouts a week that left her feeling ‘strong’.
What to try: Try squats with heel raises.
Stand up straight, head forward, and shoulders relaxed.
Bend hips and knees to assume a squat position, keeping your feet hip-width apart.
Make sure your back is straight and head in line with your spine.
Rise up on to your toes, maintaining the squat position.
Lower heels to the floor and return to the start position.
Repeat ten times. Do two to three sets of the exercise, three to five times a week.
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