My wife’s made me aware of my snoring for several months now.
So I’ve finally decided to talk with my Doctor about having a sleep study. Please join me in my journey as I share some personal experiences and other insights.
This then is my story…kind of.
Is it More Than Snoring?
A sharp jab to my side jars me from a sound slumber.
“Kent, you’re snoring!” (It’s never “Honey, you’re snoring”. No, when it’s bad, I’m always on a first name basis). I usually end up mumbling something, turn over, and go back to sleep. There are, however, times when I wake myself up choking or something else that’s quite disturbing.
For example, I travel to different hospitals and occasionally stay at hotels. One time in particular, I was rudely awakened; finding myself totally unable to breathe. I also had a bad burning sensation in my throat and the most horrible taste. I was literally halfway onto my feet before I fully woke up, and ran to the bathroom.
Not being able to breathe was bad enough. But with only a locked door between me and any chance of rescue only made it worse. I did end up catching my breath but also threw up some crud. That only happened once (so far). But more and more I wake with some real thick phlegm stuck in my throat. I can still breathe o.k., but it’s a bit uncomfortable.
My wife’s complaints of my snoring surprised me at first. But now that surprise has turned to concern. And because I’m aware of the dangers of untreated sleep apnea, I began to wonder if I might have fallen victim to this thing. So while I don’t fit the profile of a typical person with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), that doesn’t automatically rule me out.
But just what does a typical person with sleep apnea look like?
A Typical Sleep Apnea Person
Although the average person with OSA is an overweight middle-aged male, almost anyone can have sleep apnea. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that 100% of the population of planet Earth has moments throughout the night where they stop breathing for a time. So it’s not just a matter of if you stop breathing, but how often do you stop breathing. And how long do you stop breathing for?
As for me, I’m 6 ft. tall (72 inches), and I weigh 180 pounds. That puts my Body Mass Index (BMI) at 24.4, which is average for a fellow my age (I’m 60). Yet I’m displaying some of the symptoms of OSA.
And my wife has made me aware of my snoring for some time now. Plus, every now and then I do wake myself up choking; though it doesn’t happen often. But, I rarely wake up with a headache, and only score a 3 on a sleepiness questionnaire.
Also, my dad died of a heart attack at 71; although I don’t recall snoring being an issue with him. I’m also not on any prescription medications, and really don’t feel too bad. And even though I spend many hours a night (and day), at a computer, I do try and stay pretty active. For instance, I have a couple road bicycles, and my wife and I like to go for walks as well. But, I figure I should at least get a checkup.
Would you Have a Sleep Study?
I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to not know what happens during a sleep study. What if I wasn’t aware of the dangers of sleep apnea? Would I even have any reasons to talk with my Doctor? I’m not sure, but the following are some things that come to mind:
My wife says my snoring is really bad, and sometimes I breathe really shallow. I’m tired sometimes, but isn’t everybody? Why should I waste my money on some expensive test, and for what? What if I don’t have this sleep acne, or whatever they call it? And if I do and get this breathing machine, what will that do? Help me sleep better? I really don’t sleep all that bad now. Oh, I won’t snore, and that’ll make my wife happy. But I could just get some of those breathe right strips and be done with it, no?
The problem with that thinking is that breathe right strips open your nasal passages, and can stop the snoring caused by that. However, they do nothing in the way of holding your airway open. And that’s where the problem is. Besides, CPAP does more than give you a better nights sleep. That’s really just a beneficial side effect. It can literally save your life.
What if it’s More Than Just Snoring?
On the one hand, I hope that I don’t have obstructive sleep apnea. Or should I say sleep apnea that needs to be treated.
You see, there are various degrees of OSA. The severity of sleep apnea is based on a formula we call the AHI scale. This AHI scale stands for Apnea Hypopnea Index. It’s calculated based on the number of times you stop breathing each hour. But we don’t even count every time you stop breathing, only those times you stop for 10 seconds or more.
Also, if your airway is going to collapse, it will after you’ve breathed out. So try this once, breathe out and then stop breathing for at least 10 seconds. This describes apneas. That’s when your airway closes completely. If your airway only partially collapses, we call that a hypopnea.
Now consider that you usually will stop breathing for way more than 10 seconds before waking. And your heart is taking quite a beating during this time. But you’re not going to die from suffocation. Your brain will wake you long before then. However, your heart can only take so much.
So, if I do need CPAP, I’ll be very compliant with treatment. ‘Cause, even though I’m not afraid to die, I don’t want to just yet.
So I met with my Doctor yesterday(Friday), and I have some doubts about having sleep apnea. And although he did order a sleep study, we both agreed that it’s not really that much of an issue with me. I think I’d still feel better if I had the test, and at least rule it out. However, I’m going to spend some time looking more into this and see if I really need to go through with it.
I’ll keep you updated.
I’ve shared some of my personal concerns about snoring and sleep apnea. And this has also made me more aware of what a person might be thinking who doesn’t know the dangers of OSA.
Now, what about you? Whether you’ve had a sleep study or not; or even if you suspect you might have sleep apnea, I want to hear your insights. Please leave an appropriate comment or question.
Till next time…Blessings.