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Radio waves soo the Don back into the marital bed.

Byline: Jenny Hudson

A pensioner is able to tuck up with his wife of 53 years once again -- after his snoring was stopped in an operation using radio waves.

Heat generated by radio frequency was used to destroy tissue, stiffen the palate and enlarge Donald Hughes' airways.

The success of the operation carried out at North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust means Mr Hughes no longer disturbs his wife, Doris, as she tries to sleep.

The problem became so serious that for the last two years, the couple from Leek, Staffordshire, have been sleeping in separate bedrooms.

Mr Hughes, aged 72, said: ``The thing was, I missed her. So I made up my mind to do something about it.''

The operation was carried out by ear, nose and throat consultant surgeon Vere Carlin, who said the radiofrequency technique, known as Coblation , offers a far less painful alternative to traditional surgery.

The energy generated by the radio frequency causes a disintegration of the cells, so there is no damage to the surface or the nerve endings. Traditional surgery involves reducing tissue in the palate by cutting it away.

Mr Carlin said: ``Coblation is a fairly simple and straightforward procedure and much less painful than the old method. Patients often go home within an hour.

``There will be a tiny bit of soreness but patients are able to eat within a few days.

``Snoring does cause a great deal of social disruption. I've come across businessmen who have been highly embarrassed about going away on business trips because they end up keeping a whole floor of the hotel awake.''

Mr Hughes had found his snoring had got worse as he became older and might have been linked to a broken bone in the centre of his nose which occurred when he boxed during his Army career.

Increasingly, he had difficulties breathing.

Deformities in the wall between the nostrils is one cause of snoring, resulting in blocked airways.

``Doris was not getting any sleep and it was becoming a point of contention,'' said Mr Hughes, who is a founding member of Leek Town Football Club.

``I suppose there was the male pride -- at first you say `I'm not snoring, I don't snore'. Then Doris got to the stage where she couldn't put up with it any more. After about 18 months, I decided to go and see my GP.''

He was referred to Mr Carlin who carried out the operation five months ago. Mr Hughes said: ``I didn't really feel apprehensive about it -- I just wanted my life back again.

``I had a bit of a sore throat afterwards but the discomfort was nothing that I couldn't handle. I'm a full-time supporter of Leek Town and I'm still the loudest voice on the park.

``My snoring has not completely gone away but it isn't heavy and loud any more so it is tolerable.

``Psychologically it has made a difference -- we are partners. We can put our arms around each other and know that someone is there beside you at night.''

Coblation surgery only takes several minutes to perform. The Coblation device is attached to a special electrical generator which delivers the energy to dissolve the tonsils.

The part of the instrument which goes into the throat looks like a magician's wand.

The technique has been introduced in the UK for removing tonsils as well as correcting snoring.

Fact File

People who snore may suffer from: l Poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat. When muscles are too relaxed, the tongue falls backwards into the airway or the throat muscles draw in from the sides into the airway l Excessive bulkiness of throat tissue. Children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore.

Overweight people have bulky neck tissue, too l Long soft palate and/or uvula. A long palate narrows the opening from the nose into the throat. As it dangles, it acts as a noisy flutter valve during relaxed breathing l Obstructed nasal airways. A stuffy or blocked nose requires extra effort to pull air through it. This creates an exaggerated vacuum in the throat, and pulls together the floppy tissues of the throat, and snoring results


Don Hughes settles down for a peaceful night at his home in Leek
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 31, 2001
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