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Anti-Snoring Devices Fail Test

Tens of millions of Americans say they snore and, if you live with one of them, you'd probably love to find a way to stop the noise.

Hundreds of products claim to do just that, from nose strips to throat sprays to pillows. But do these anti-snoring devices really work?

CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella

that, devices aside, snoring could be a sign of serious medical issues that need to be addressed.

The noise can seem louder than a lawn mower, more rattling than a chainsaw.

Cobiella spoke with Cindy and Tom Scheid.

She was the snorer.

"You and Tom have been married for nearly 30 years now, so for nearly 30 years he was telling you that you were snoring?" asked Cobiella.

"He's a saint!" laughed Cindy.

To Tom, her snoring was no joke: "It would either keep me from falling asleep or wake me at some point during the night."

"I'd compare it to a jet engine," says their son, Greg.

"If you're downstairs and mom's up in the bedroom, you could hear it?" Cobiella asked.

"Oh definitely," Greg said.

Cindy is one of 37 million Americans who are chronic snorers and their families aren't the only ones suffering,

Says Cindy: "I was always concerned in motel rooms that other people would hear me in other rooms.

"If there was something that would help me, then I wanted to do that."

Promises of help can be found in every drugstore and online. Hundreds of products claim to offer relief to consumers desperate for a silent night, Cobiella says.

Texas ear-nose-throat surgeon Dr. Peter Michaelson, who's with Wilford Hall Medical Center, tells Cobiella patients would ask him all the time whether the devices work. So he decided to find out.

In the first independent study of its kind, Michaelson put three popular over-the-counter anti-snoring products to the test: a nasal strip, a throat spray and a pillow.

"They're readily available. You can find many of these products at your local drug store," he said.

Michaelson tested each product on more than three dozen chronic snorers, measuring how well they reduced the loudness and frequency of snoring.

"Based on the study I performed, none of them worked," he told Cobiella.

And there's more: Michaelson says snoring could be a symptom of a serious health problem, one that anti-snoring products could never cure.

"If you have a problem with snoring, you need to be evaluated by a medical professional," he said.

When Cindy finally saw a specialist about her snoring, she was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition. She didn't know it, but she would stop breathing more than 40 times during the night.

"I was totally surprised. I had no idea," she said.

Her doctor prescribed a mouth device that resembles a cross between dentures and an orthodontic insert and, now, Cindy won't go to bed without it.

"The minute I started wearing it that first night, I definitely got better sleep," she said.

And her snoring is all but gone, her family says.

"There's no longer that constant, in the background sawing noise. It's pretty quiet," Greg said.

In their house, that's a dream come true.

Manufacturers of over-the-counter snoring aids say their products do help reduce "social" snoring, but aren't designed to treat serious conditions such as sleep apnea.

Doctors say sleeping on your side may also help reduce snoring, as might avoiding alcohol or large meals before bed.