London: A face mask can improve breathing in people suffering from the condition sleep apnoea, which is related to snoring, according to a study assessing more than 200 patients. The researchers, including those from Imperial College in London, said sleep apnoea affected more than a billion adults globally, causing their airways to become too narrow during sleep.
People briefly stop breathing many times throughout the night, triggering loud snoring, and frequent awakening from sleep, and subsequent daytime sleepiness, they added.
The study was conducted at 11 National Health Service (NHS) sleep centres across the UK, including the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, and is one of the first to investigate the use of the treatment for mild cases of sleep apnoea. They investigated the use of a mask — called a CPAP machine — that fits over the nose or mouth and gently pushes air into the mouth and throat, keeping the airways open.
As part of the study, 115 patients were asked to use the CPAP for three months, while 118 received standard care for mild sleep apnoea, including advice on improving sleep and avoiding anything that can exacerbate the condition, such as drinking alcohol before bed.
While earlier studies found that the CPAP machine improved symptoms of moderate to severe cases of the condition, the researchers said this is the first large trial to find that mild cases of sleep apnoea can also be treated with this technology.