Loud Snoring/Obstructive Sleep Apnea (Long)
Rodger Morris (rlm@SUNED1.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL)
Wed, 12 Apr 1995 10:30:09 PDT
>When my son's Troop went out for the last campout of the summer, the first year
>he was in, we went to the mountains of east-central Arizona. Camp was set up,
>and after the evening campfire we all turned in.
>The next morning, I got up - my normal sleepy self, and went over by the
>where the rest of the adult leadership was. For some reason, most seemed
to be a
>bit annoyed with me. I finally found out that _my_ snoring had kept about half
>the Troop awake that night. (I have a very loud and erratic snore.)
>The next night, I slept in the van... ;)
It sounds as though you may have a case of "obstructive sleep apnea
syndrome"(OSA). The symptoms of this are precisely what you have described
in your posting, i.e., extremely loud and erratic snoring, tiredness upon
awakening, and daytime sleepiness. Persons with OSA have double to triple
the risk of heart attack and stroke that they would would have, absent the
OSA. They also have double to quintuple the risk of having an automobile
accident(falling into "microsleep" whilst driving). OSA in its later stages
is accompanied by uncontrollable sleepiness during the daytime. It typically
develops over a period of a decade or more, and its onset is quite insidious
in that the person afflicted with OSA is totally unaware of the seriousness
of the condition. Most men seek treatment for OSA only because their wives
cannot get any sleep and force them to seek medical treatment. OSA affects
about 1 percent of the adult population, most of them men. Women seem to be
essentially immune to OSA until menopause, then they develop the syndrome in
rapidly increasing numbers.
I was diagnosed with "severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome" a bit over a
month ago. When I was Scoutmaster, my snoring was the stuff of legends in my
Troop. I pitched my tent about 50 yards away from everybody else and _still_
disturbed peoples sleep. Like you, I started sleeping in my van so my
snoring would not keep others awake at night. A decade before, when I
navigated C-130 Hercules aircraft overwater as a U.S. Naval Flight Officer,
the pilot used to bunk with the co-pilot and let me use his private room
(which he was entitled to as a senior officer) so that the co-pilot could
get some sleep. When I went through Scoutmaster training in October-November
of 1971 at age 20, my snoring was so loud that one of my fellow trainee
Scoutmasters thought a bear was invading the camp (no, I am NOT making this
up ;-) ).
This is exacerbated by the fact that I have a birth defect in the form of a
grossly deviated nasal septum. I have never been able to breath through my
nose, and I always suffered from nasal congestion, which I always thought
was due to allergies.
In my case, my airway becomes obstructed between every breath. I am told by
the sleep pathologist that the telemetered sleep study I took in late
February of this year shows that I wake up sufficiently to take conscious
control of the throat muscles and tongue and clear the airway long enough to
take one breath. Then I lapse back into sleep. On the average, I wake 109
time per _hour_ (!!!!!!). Thus, I wake up about 800-900 times during a
typical sleep period at night. Unsurprisingly, I was suffering from extreme
exhaustion and sleep deprivation. I kept falling asleep any time I sat down,
and also any time the light level was low. Also, my heart rate dropped to
about 70 beats per minute just after I took a breath, then ramped up to
110-120 beats per minute as I was struggling to breath. My blood pressure
was also high.
Last Thursday, I was fitted with a device to provide air under pressure to
me through the nostrils whilst I sleep. This device is a small air
compressor equipped with a two-stage adjustable regulator. It plugs into the
wall, but it can be run off an inverter plugged into a 12 volt battery. The
unit weighs only about 5 pounds. It has made an enormous difference in just
the few days I have had it. I am no longer sleepy, and I have far more
energy than I have had for about the last 7-8 years. I shall be taking the
apparatus with me to summer camp in July and using it whilst camping under
canvas in our Troop campsite.
Also, because of this device, I no longer snore.
I still have 27 sleep disturbances per hour, which is still considered to be
severe OSA, but it is a 75 percent reduction, and the severity of each apnea
is greatly reduced. The sleep pathologist wants to get me down to 10 or
fewer apneas per hour. I will go through surgery to straighten the deviated
septum in a few weeks. The surgery was scheduled for yesterday as outpatient
surgery, but was cancelled because the anesthesiologist thought I might die
at home after the surgery. He wants me electronically monitored for a few
days until the packing is removed from my nostrils and I can start using the
assisted breathing device again, lest I stop breathing whilst I am asleep
and never start breathing again.
I _strongly_ urge you to get a medical screening for OSA, as your loud and
intermittant snoring and morning "usually tired self" are red warning flag.
You are far too fine a Scouter for us to lose! You won't believe the
difference in energy you have when this condition is treated!!
Also, for all Scouters out there. If you know of a child who snores loudly
at night, this is _NOT_, repeat, _NOT_ normal. Any child who snores loudly
should be checked by a physician for a deviated nasal septum and/or a sleep
disorder. It's far better to catch it early, before it becomes a
life-threatening condition, as it has with me.
Yours in Scouting,
Rodger Morris, firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 852, Ventura County Council (CA), BSA
National Woodbadge 416, Philmont, 1973
"I used to be a Beaver..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City