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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 00:02 GMT
Snoring cures success 'exaggerated'
Snorers seek help from over-the-counter cures
Snorers seek help from over-the-counter cures
Sleep-deprived partners may look to them for salvation, but claims for products which promise to stop or reduce snoring are exaggerated, say consumer experts.

Health Which? looked at eight products, and asked manufacturers to back up their claims.

Many snoring products simply don't live up to their claims

Emma Copeland, Health Which?
But the magazine said its expert panel - a professor of lung medicine, an expert in restorative dentistry, a herbalist, a homeopath and a pharmacologist - found evidence was often weak, and research poorly designed.

Sleep experts welcomed the findings and said people experiencing significant problems with snoring should see their family doctor.

Emma Copeland, principal researcher for Health Which?, said: "Many snoring products simply don't live up to their claims.

"Some of these products may work for you, but we remain unconvinced by most of the evidence provided to support the claims.

"Partners of snorers will know that a dig in the ribs can sometimes stop the noise - so you may find that resorting to this is the only way to stop the night time noise."

Product ratings

Previous research has estimated that 40% of people in the UK snore regularly.

The habit can be caused by being overweight, drinking alcohol, having collapsed airways, a blocked nose, or by taking some types of medicine such as sleeping tablets before bed.

This, says Health Which?, means products aimed at one cause may not work if the snoring is due to another reason.

If snoring is combined with feeling sleepy during the day and experiencing pauses in breathing during sleep, people may be suffering from the more serious sleep apnoea - which affects 10 to 20% of snorers - and should see their GP.

The Health Which? panel gave each of the stop snoring products a "research rating", based on the quality of the evidence provided.

  • Breathe Right Nasal Strips - claims to keep congested nasal passages open. Received one of the best ratings. But the claim the majority of snoring was due to a nasal breathing problem was criticised. Experts said it was just 10%
  • Good Night Stop Snore Mouthwash - claims its combination of essential oils will help stop snoring. But the claim of a 78% success rate has no convincing evidence behind it, said the panel
  • Nozovent, designed to dilate the nostrils to help breathing, got a high research rating. But experts said it would only help snorers if their habit was caused by a nasal obstruction. The device also sometimes fell out during the night
  • Snoreeze spray - strongly criticised by one expert for its 'grossly exaggerated' claims. The product's packaging claimed thousands of people had been successfully helped, but the only evidence supplied to the panel was for a two-week trial of 28 snorers
  • Snore No More nasal spray - experts said the success rate of the clinical trial was "artificially inflated" and evidence for the product's success "marginal"
  • Somni Snore Guard - the panel said manufacturers failed to provide enough evidence it worked
  • Snore Stop Chewable Tablets - experts wanted to see more evidence of its claim to work in 80% of patients, and there was concern the suggestion the tablets were suitable for children, which always requires investigation
  • Y-Snore Nose Drops, a homeopathic product - experts said there was insufficient evidence it worked. Manufacturers' claims were said to be "very much exaggerated"

Neil Douglas, professor of respiratory and chest medicine at the Scottish National Sleep Centre, told BBC News Online: "People have to be very careful before spending money on devices advertised when there's no objective evidence that they work.

"I know of some people who have wasted hundreds of pounds on such devices, with no benefit."

He advised snorers to consider if they are overweight or use alcohol.

"If those two don't work, don't waste your money."

See also:

08 Jan 01 | Health
The city that never sleeps
04 Jan 01 | Health
Sleep surgery 'unlikely to work'
24 May 00 | Health
Dentists urged to help snorers
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