Dr Michael Baah Biney: Snoring in adults

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The social structure of African civilisation is designed in such a way that we don’t easily open up about our problems after we reach adulthood, especially if you are male.

Many people have health problems but are hesitant to discuss them. Snoring is a problem that, while ostensibly medical, has a substantial impact on mental health, both directly and indirectly.

We all snore now and then, but if it becomes a habit, you should seek professional help.

Snoring does not look or feel harmful but when it is persistent and not attended to, can have complications like heart diseases, stroke etc.

A 35-year-old man ran into me at a health screening outreach organised by a couple of friends and me as a way to give back to society and raise public awareness about common illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell disease, sexually transmitted infections, and hepatitis, among others, a few years ago.

Guess what? He didn’t come for any of the mentioned medical reasons. He’d endured a roller coaster of snoring-related sleep issues.

He told me about his ordeal: “Doctor, this problem has existed since my first year of university.” My roommates complained about my snoring a zillion times. I had the impression that they didn’t like me. These complaints resulted in intense disputes between my roommates and me. My condition became known to my neighbors and hall mates. This shattered my self-esteem and confidence.”

“To get away from my messmates’ constant complaints, I had to switch rooms every academic year. Continuing students were wary of being partnered with me because of my snoring. Due to these events, he had to pair with first years because they knew nothing about me, yet the brawls, squabbling, and banters caused by my snoring persisted. MMT was my nickname. Although those were my initials, I later discovered that I was being ridiculed; my critics compared my snores to the sound of a Metro Mass Transportation (MMT) bus’ engine”

I now live alone, yet I am hesitant to have boys-boys sleepover or vice versa. There are two groups of people reading this article right now. Group 1 is probably grinning, giggling, or even laughing out loud. Perhaps this group is thinking of an example right now. Group 2 is being reminded of their predicaments. Sorry for the inconvenience, however, there is a bright side to this situation. You are not alone. People of high repute do snore. Chiefs snore, accountants, carpenters, teachers, doctors, CEOs etc alike. Seeking the right help is the magic wand and that’s what makes the difference.

We looked at snoring in children last week. This week, we’ll be talking about adult snoring. Snoring has disrupted couples’ sexual lives and homes.

The vibration of the soft tissue lining the tubes that convey breathed air to our lungs to produce oxygen causes snoring. Snoring can be caused by growths along this path like nasal polyps, tumors at the back of your nostrils. Many people with a snoring issue also have noisy or heavy breathing during the day, which is frequently brought to the attention of the sufferer by someone nearby.

Many more people don’t present with noisy breathing but with snoring only. That may be the only sign. The danger if snoring is not addressed, you’ll experience small pauses in breathing while sleeping, which is known as obstructive sleep apnea in medical terms (OSA). OSA impairs restful sleep.

Obesity is merely one of the risk factors linked to snoring and OSA. Few people have asked me if snoring is genetic because it sometimes occurs in more than one family member at the same time. Dad had it, son has it.

This is where obesity enters the picture. Snoring is sometimes linked to obesity, which can run in families. Appropriate exercises and weight-loss diets can help to reduce this.

Following the WHO recommended 30mins exercise for at least 3 days is a good start.

Snoring that runs in families has been researched by authorities, who discovered that some people have a large and superfluous tongue and other soft tissues at the rear of their mouth that slip down the throat during sleep, impeding airflow.

With the help of an Ear Nose Throat surgeon (otorhinolaryngologist) and a sleep therapist, change of sleep posture from sleeping on the back to side may be advised after history(interview), clinical exams and adjunctive lab test.

After a history (interview), clinical exams, and complementary lab tests, a shift in sleep posture from back to side may be recommended with the support of an Ear Nose Throat surgeon (otorhinolaryngologist) and a sleep therapist.

Morning headaches, excessive daytime sleep and drowsiness(narcolepsy), tiredness on waking up, frequent interrupted sleep, reduced attention span and chest pain at night.

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