A pill taken before bed can stop snoring for good.
The new tablet relieves the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – which affects up to two million people in the UK, causing heavy snoring and sometimes interrupted breathing.
Initial clinical trial results suggest that the night pill can alleviate these problems by up to 74 percent.
Both men and women can get OSA, but it is most common in men over 40; obesity is one of the most important risk factors. It occurs when the muscles in the airways, which naturally relax when we fall asleep, completely collapse.
The snoring sound is caused by air being forced through a smaller opening in the throat, and when the muscles collapse completely, it can turn off breathing for ten seconds or more.
The new tablet relieves the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which affects up to two million people in the UK. Pictured: A man wearing a sleep apnea mask (file photo)
When the brain realizes that breathing has stopped, it sends out a signal to contract the airway muscles, normally waking the person up with a jolt.
In severe cases, sleep can be disrupted every few minutes.
Treatments usually include lifestyle changes such as losing weight, drinking less alcohol, sleeping on your side, and using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, a mask worn over the face during sleep that gently pushes air into the lungs to collapse the airway.
However, some people find the mask cumbersome and research suggests that nearly a third never use or abandon the device. A once-a-day pill is seen by some sleep experts as the holy grail of sleep apnea treatment.
The new tablet, currently code-named AD109, contains two existing drugs.
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 the levels of a chemical in the brain called norepinephrine, which helps improve concentration.
A one-time pill is seen by some sleep experts as the holy grail of sleep apnea treatment (photo file)
American scientists developing the new pill believe that norepinephrine also stimulates the release of cells called motor neurons that keep the airway muscles in good shape – reducing the risk of ‘collapsing’ during sleep.
The other drug, oxybutynin, is usually prescribed to patients with urinary incontinence, which stops embarrassing leaks by reducing spasms in the muscles that control the bladder.
In the throat and airways, oxybutynin is thought to act on receptors that cause the muscles that control the tongue to contract – effectively holding it in place, rather than blocking the throat and causing snoring.
None of these drugs are currently used to treat OSA, but a 2018 study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA, in which the two drugs were given to 20 snorers at the same time, revealed a powerful effect after just one night.
Some patients went from an average of nearly 30 breathing interruptions per hour to just seven – a 74 percent drop – with symptoms improving from the first night in some cases.
Patients’ blood oxygen levels – important for heart and brain function – also increased significantly because they were able to get more air into their lungs.
Now an American company called Apnimed has combined these two drugs in one capsule and is in the process of setting up a clinical trial.
However, treatment may not be without risks. Oxybutynin can cause dry eyes, stomach cramps and drowsiness; while atomoxetine has been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts in some children who took it for ADHD.
Dr. Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert and 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 will last.’
Why you might get more stomach problems in winter
According to a study in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, stomach pain appears to spike in the winter.
Researchers at the Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland analyzed more than 24 million Google searches over four years and found that the number of questions about stomach pain and related conditions such as vomiting increased by about 30 percent in winter compared to summer.
Heavier meals and more time on the Internet during the winter months may partly explain the increase.
Eating seaweed weekly could reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by nearly 20 percent, according to a study from Tianjin Medical University in China.
Anti-inflammatory chemicals in seaweed can ward off the disease, where severe inflammation can lead to liver cancer.
Yes, homemade masks made of cloth will protect you!
Homemade face masks are effective at blocking droplets that can carry the Covid-19 virus, according to a new study from the University of Illinois.
Researchers tested 11 common household fabrics used to make masks, such as sheets and tea towels, and compared their breathability and drip blocking ability to medical masks.
Writing in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters, they found that the materials were all effective at blocking 100 nm particles – the size of a coronavirus particle – carried by high-speed droplets similar to those released when speaking, coughing and to sneeze.
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 that burns energy.
This fat is normally activated by cold temperatures or chemical signals sent from the brain. Researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada found that it contains proteins called beta-2 adrenergic receptors that stimulate the combustion process.
They will now use a drug to find out if turning on these proteins can boost people’s metabolism.
Cancer ‘vaccine’ could be on the horizon
A new cancer vaccine shows promise. Animal studies show that the immune system is able to successfully identify tumors after the CLEC9A-WT1 shot is given.
The vaccine, which contains antibodies mixed with a protein specific for tumors, stimulates the body’s immune response, enabling it to recognize and destroy cancer cells. It can act on a range of cancers, including breast and pancreas, the journal Clinical and Translational Immunology reports.
Finger length link at risk of dementia
Finger size is an indication of a woman’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research from the University of Southern California. In general, men have a shorter index finger than ring fingers, while women are the same length.
The study found that women with ‘male’ finger ratios are less likely to develop the disease than women with a ‘female’ ratio. This ratio is a marker of exposure to hormones in the womb, and the results suggest that women exposed to more testosterone or lower estrogen levels before birth are less likely to have dementia.
SWIPE IN AVOID
Sneaky ways to add vegetables 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 400 g potatoes and 225 g swede, celeriac and carrot. In a large saucepan, cook with water until very soft and drain.
Puree with a potato masher or use a rice grinder if you prefer a softer texture. Season with salt and pepper, add a drizzle of olive oil and a tablespoon or two of Greek yogurt. Serve immediately
Make nasal rinses and mouthwash a part of your daily routine – a new study in the Journal of Medical Virology suggests this could help reduce the transmission of viruses like Covid. American researchers tested household products such as baby shampoo (1 percent, made up with water) such as nasal rinse and mouthwash, and found that they could inactivate coronaviruses.
Secrets of an A-List Body …
Alesha Dixon recently wowed onlookers in a bright yellow mini dress
HOW to get the enviable physique of the stars.
This week: Alesha Dixon’s legs.
Alesha Dixon recently wowed onlookers 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 completed a 12-week challenge of three workouts a week, which left her feeling ‘strong’.
What You Can 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.
Stand on your toes and maintain the squatting position.
Lower the heels to the floor and return to the starting position.
Repeat ten times. Do two to three sets of the exercise three to five times a week.