Magnets are the latest technology to be tested as a treatment for snoring.
The pull of two magnets is being used to keep the airways open at night to treat obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a condition that affects two million Britons.
It causes the airways to narrow during sleep, interrupting breathing.
When we are asleep, the muscles at the back of the throat relax. For most people, this does not cause a problem, but for those with sleep apnoea, the airway becomes so narrow, breathing is blocked for at least ten seconds.
Once the brain realises breathing has stopped, it sends out a signal for the airway muscles to contract again.
This opens the airway and the sufferer normally wakes with a jolt and a snore. In those with severe OSA, sleep can be interrupted every few minutes.
Symptoms include loud snoring and gasping noises when asleep, as well as tiredness and irritability during the day. OSA is most common in men over the age of 40.
Being overweight, drinking alcohol and smoking are also risk factors.
Left untreated, OSA can raise the risk of high blood pressure, and of having a heart attack or a stroke.
Studies also show that someone who has been deprived of sleep because of OSA is up to 12 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
Treatments include lifestyle changes, such as losing excess weight, cutting down on alcohol, sleeping on your side, and using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.
These machines prevent the airway closing by delivering a continuous supply of compressed air through a mask, but although effective, adherence rates are low because many users find the masks uncomfortable.
The Magnetic Apnoea Prevention (Magnap) device uses the type of magnet found in computer hard drives and bicycle dynamos to keep the airway open.
The magnets have an erosion-proof titanium coating and it is claimed that they can be safely left in the body for years, once implanted.
One, the size of a 5p coin, is surgically implanted on the hyoid bone, the U-shaped bone found at the root of the tongue in the neck. The surgery takes around an hour.
Four weeks later, once the inch-long incision has healed, the patient is equipped with a second magnet — contained in fabric that is tied around the neck.
This second magnet is attracted to the one implanted in the neck, creating a gentle pulling force which keeps the airway open.
Different-sized magnets can be used to increase or reduce the attraction depending on the size and shape of the patient’s neck.
Six people have had implants so far. They are part of a U.S. trial of the technology on ten people with mild to severe OSA at Mount Zion University Hospital in San Francisco.
‘Preventing the collapse of the airway passages by using an implanted magnet modulated by an external one may prevent the need for cumbersome external machines,’ says Jaydip Ray, who is a professor of otology and neurotology at the University of Sheffield.
‘The long-term results of the study will be eagerly awaited.’
A new 12-week treatment has been developed for people whose sense of smell has been damaged by Covid-19.
It includes a steroid drug to tackle inflammation (which can cause anosmia, or loss of smell) and essential oils to ‘re-educate’ the receptors in the nose.
Around ten per cent of Covid patients report loss of smell, caused by cells in the nose being damaged by inflammation.
In a trial at Washington University in the U.S., 200 patients will be prescribed either budesonide, an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, or a placebo, and then be exposed to essential oils.
Pollution may worsen mental illness, according to new research reported in the journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences.
Doctors analysed 1,860 emergency department admissions for mental disorders over a 12-month period and compared them with pollution levels.
Results showed higher levels of ozone correlated with a spike in daily hospital admissions.
Just how ozone levels could have such an effect is unclear, but the researchers from the University of Perugia in Italy say one theory is that pollution reduces levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which is involved in depression and other mental health disorders.
How to get the enviable physiques of the stars.
This week: Jennifer Lopez’s abs
Singer Jennifer Lopez recently showed off her toned stomach in a leather two-piece. The 51-year-old mixes dance and weights with kickboxing to stay in shape.
What to try: The sit and roll works the obliques (side of the waist) and abdominal muscles.
Sit up straight, legs straight out in front of you, holding a ball in front of you.
Twist your shoulders to the right and lower the ball to one side, keeping arms and back straight.
With arms still to the right, roll towards the floor lowering your back, shoulders and head so you finish lying flat on the floor. Then reverse the movement to the original seated position. Repeat on the left side, 12-16 times on each side.
Sexual pleasure in women is down to more than hormone levels, confirms a study in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. It found factors such as age, weight, medication and smoking were also influential.
Just 5 per cent of participants had sexual desire related only to the hormone androgen, which is crucial for sexual function.
The protein from soya beans may help prevent memory loss. A study from Kyushu University in Japan has shown that when the protein is broken down, it becomes the molecule dipeptide and this can impact memory.
In research published in June in the journal Science Of Food, a group of mice was injected with molecules that stimulated Alzheimer’s disease — some of the mice had also been fed soya bean protein.
The mice that received the protein did better at a short-term memory test than the other mice. Toshiro Matsui, a professor in the university’s faculty of agriculture who led the study, said: ‘We hope this is a step towards functional foods that could help prevent memory degradation or improve our memories.’
An instant bladder scan that can identify cancer cells other tests are unable to detect has been developed by European scientists.
Current tests, including urine checks, don’t always catch the disease in the early stages. One method is with an endoscope — where a camera and light at the end of a long thin device is inserted to examine the bladder.
However, cancers can be missed, as the white light used can’t penetrate the tissue. The new device uses infrared light (longer light waves than those in visible light), helping to provide a fast, accurate diagnosis.
Researchers say the technology, which is part of an EU project called Amplitude, co-ordinated by Tampere University in Finland, could save lives.
Balance, hydration and tremors are among the most important issues for people with Parkinson’s disease, according to a citizen-science project, where volunteers help with scientific investigations.
More than 4,000 people signed up to the ‘100 for Parkinson’s’ study, set up in 2016 by health tech firm uMotif with the charities Cure Parkinson’s Trust and Parkinson’s UK.
Each participant had to choose ten symptoms to track daily for 100 days using a phone app.
Results showed balance, water intake, issues relating to constipation, tremors and how easy it was to get up in the morning were the most common symptoms recorded, suggesting these matter most to people with Parkinson’s.
A common sexual health problem can be managed by taking the widely used anti-depressant sertraline, report researchers at Peking University in Beijing.
They analysed 1,000 men who experience premature ejaculation (which affects one in three at some point) and found sertraline, a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, significantly prolongs the time until climax.
The results, reported in the journal Medicine, show satisfaction scores of men and their partners almost doubled after treatment. SSRI drugs are known to delay ejaculation as a side-effect.