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Snoring - or Is It Sleep Apnoea?

Updated on March 5, 2020
AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

Adele Cosgrove-Bray is a writer, poet and artist who lives on the Wirral Peninsula in England.

Restful Nights?

He never snored, he said. Oh no, not ever. Noise; what noise? He couldn't hear anything... And so I made the video below...

We had tried various cures for my husband's snoring, including nose strips which are supposed to keep the nasal cavity open. All they did, after several months of usage, was give him a snore nose from the adhesive. One of our cats was most entertained by the strip attached to Richard's nose. Richard found it difficult to sleep with a cat sitting next to his head, determinedly trying to groom away this new toy.

There is a theory which claims that lying on your back can aggravate snoring. That's fine in principle, but Richard almost always slept on his side. Smoking and drinking can also be factors, but neither of these apply to us.

He tried keeping a glass of water beside his bed, to prevent a dry mouth which might encourage snoring. But in order to sip this he, quite naturally, had to be awake - but he wasn't; he was sound asleep, snoring.

He also tried wearing a gum shield, as it was suggested this might help. It didn't. Then it disappeared, and then was found under the bed, all chewed up, having met its end in the jaws of our Jack Russell Terrier.

Meanwhile the noise went on... and on... and on.

Diagnosis Sleep Apnoea!

Richard has chronic migraine and he mentioned his snoring to his migraine specialist, almost in passing. The specialist advised RIchard to ask his GP for an appointment with a sleep apnoea specialist. This was arranged only after Richard insisted.

The test was carried out, and when Richard visited the hospital to hear the results he was told that his was the worst case of sleep apnoea that the specialist had encountered in 20 years of practice. And, ironically it was the video (above), filmed for a joke, of Richard snoring which clinched the diagnoses.

RIchard also suffers from Diabetes type 2, irritable bowel syndrome, a hiatus hernia, restless leg syndrome, and an enzyme in his liver is performing badly. All these conditions, plus his chronic migraine and chronic sleep apnoea, relate to low dopamine levels.

As an aside, it was only the migraine specialist who cracked the whip and pushed for many of the tests which revealed some of these conditions. Prior to this, Richard had been suspected of being a hypochondriac. The word "malingerer" had even been written on his medical records - despite the fact that Richard is self-employed and works six days a week, and has done so for the past 20 years!

What is Sleep Apnoea?

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is caused by the soft tissues of the throat relaxing and collapsing sufficiently for the airway to be blocked. If this blockage lasts for more than ten seconds at a time, then it is called an apnoea.

Sleep apnoea - sometimes called aleep apnea - is mostly caused by being male, aged over 40, obesity, having a large neck or having a narrow air-pipe, sedatives or high alcohol use, smoking and diabetes.

The test for this condition is simple. The patient wears a small monitor overnight, in their own home, which records heart-rate and breathing. The read-out is then assessed by a specialist.

If sleep apnoea is diagnosed, then it is recommended that alcohol is abstained from entirely, and if a person smokes they should stop. The specialist will look at diet and other lifestyle issues, too.

Treatment involves wearing breathing apparatus each night. This usually consists of a plastic mask which covers the nose and mouth, and is held in place by straps. A flexible pipe goes from the mask to a small machine which pumps air up the pipe from the room. Wearing the mask can take a lot of getting used to.

However, without the equipment a sufferer will not get enough oxygen to the brain and so they would have a much higher probability of strokes and heart attacks. Due to an inadequate supply of oxygen getting to the brain during sleep, sufferers might also be liable to a higher likelihood of dementia and Parkinson's disease, general forgetfulness and clumsiness due to poor quality sleep, outbursts of bad temper, and a gradual deterioration of the immune system.

© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray


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