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Sleep Apnoea Forum Bringing Help + Support to the Patient

I was pleased to be part of this article in the Daily Mail about snoring in women, as it was a good opportunity to raise awareness of Sleep Apnoea, which as we know affects women and children too!

THE CONDITION THAT CAN KILL

Kath Hope, 54, lives in Hull with her husband, John, 57, a train guard. The couple have two children.

I've been a life-long snorer. Even as a child, my sister couldn't sleep in the same bedroom as me.

In adult life, I would sometimes wake up literally gasping for breath - which was most alarming. I thought it might be my snoring that was waking me. But since I wasn't overweight - I'm a size 12 and like to keep fit - I couldn't work out why I was snoring so badly.

A few years ago I started feeling tired and washed out all the time and would sometimes need to nap during the day. So I saw my GP. He diagnosed stress and anxiety (I had a busy job running a music school) and prescribed antidepressants.

But I was still exhausted and lacking in concentration, so I had blood tests for conditions such as an underactive thyroid, anaemia and even leukaemia, which was terrifying.

Eventually, I was referred to an ENT consultant, who diagnosed obstructive sleep apnoea. Although I was relieved to know what the problem was, I was stunned to hear that the condition could affect the heart and even be fatal.

I realised my mother must have had it, too - her snoring would make the house vibrate. She died of a heart attack at just 49 - if only we'd known about sleep apnoea.

I now use a special machine at night that's like a mask and delivers air via a tube through my nose: this continuous pressure prevents the airways from collapsing.

It's caused sores on my nose bridge, but special creams and covers have helped with this.

My husband, John, says it has changed our lives, as he can now sleep in peace. I have since set up a website - hope2sleep.co.uk - to raise awareness of sleep apnoea and support sufferers.

EXPERT VERDICT: Obstructive sleep apnoea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder which affects 4 per cent of middle-aged men and 2 per cent of middle-aged women. It occurs when the upper airway walls relax, narrow and collapse during sleep, so the patient repeatedly stops breathing. This explains why Kath was waking up struggling for breath.

Left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. This is because the body responds to the dropping levels of oxygen by releasing adrenaline - which raises your blood pressure, glucose levels and increases your heart rate.

Lots of things contribute to the condition, including weight gain and genetics - you may come from a family with, say, small jaws, which results in narrower airways. It's more common in the over-50s and those with a neck circumference of more than 40cm.

Thankfully, Kath has been diagnosed. But it's vital to see a GP if you suspect a problem - if you wake up snorting or choking, for example. Studies have shown that if left untreated for 12 years, 35 per cent of severe cases can lead to heart attack or stroke and 15 per cent can be fatal.

The full article with the other ladies stories can be read here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3470098/Why-women-snore-a...

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Well done Kate for doing that :-)

Thanks Sleep2snore.  It certainly attracted a lot of people suspecting they have sleep apnoea and also existing sufferers needing support :)


Kath Hope said:

Thanks Sleep2snore.  It certainly attracted a lot of people suspecting they have sleep apnoea and also existing sufferers needing support :)

You would think that the Sleep Apnoea would be well known about by now with all the publicity on it, but no, it appears we still have a lot of work to do to get the facts out there.  You would think that GPs would be more active on the subject, but it appears they are still telling people to go loose some weight.  This annoys me, you need to feel better to loose the weight for starters and if you have no energy or get up and go left you are very unlikely to loose anything.  Most people seeking help would just go home and have some comfort food, which will only make things worse.  Doctors need to be more on the ball, yes, encourage people to loose weight, but they need to send them for the help they need first to get back some energy.  They don't apper to grasp the fact that most people have been suffering a long time before they seek help in the first place, only to be told to go loose some weight.  How deflating is that?

Once doctors have done tests to eliminate other causes of tiredness and fatigue they should be thinking Sleep Apnoea.  Do some basic checks at the surgery and then if they think it may be Sleep Apnoea they should be sending them for a sleep study.  The biggest problem was to get the doctors to think Sleep Apnoea, now it appears it is the way they handle patients that is the problem.  I hear only to often of people being told to go and loose some weight!  It is not just the overweight that suffer from Sleep Apnoea, some quite thin people also suffer from it, so there is no one category of people that escapes it, though the general trend is it to be overweight people, it is not always the case and it can be harder for thinner people to get their doctor to listen.

A small bit in the papers or the TV can get a flurry of people seeking help, it was an a clip in a magazine a lot of years ago that caught the eye of my partner.  She showed it to me, I was not even aware that I was stopping breathing through the night.  Went to doctor with the clip and was told by the senior partner in the surgery that "No one has died of Sleep Apnoea", that got her blood boiling and she went on the attack.  He finally said he would send me to Ear Nose & Throat for checks.  I think he thought the problem would go away, but it so happened after going through checks that other patients go through for other lung problems I got to see the consultant, he said that he suspected we were right and asked me to come into hospital for a test.  This I did and then he sent me for a full Sleep Study.  The doctor at the surgery was a bit sheepish after that, but he did allow us to put posters and leaflets in the surgery.  This led to a few others coming in asking for tests, he was shocked at this response and the leaflets, though were only agreed to be there for a month are still there and get topped up by their staff on a regular basis.  The consultant at the hospital (though retired now) started a publicity event, I was supposed to do it but couldn't, but I put him on to someone else.  There was a big spread in the local newspaper and also a bit on the local TV due to this which helped a lot of people think that this might be the answer to why they were so fatigued.  A lot came forward (some of which did not have Sleep Apnoea, but at least they were now on their doctors radar for something else) and a lot got the help they needed.  It di though make the departments a lot busier, but there is always a down side.

More doctors are aware of it now, but the public still need information that is ongoing to make new sufferers and old aware of Sleep Apnoea.

Yes Sleep2Snore things have certainly moved on since I got diagnosed - people thought I had a rare condition and most people hadn't even heard of it.  Now most people have heard of sleep apnoea, but still aren't sure what it is.  More GP's are aware these days, but sadly many of them are still only suspecting it in overweight people.  Children are the least to get diagnosed even though 1 in 30 of them suffer from it.  We sufferers have to keep sharing articles in the hope of reaching those undiagnosed and of course forums like this and other social media platforms help :)

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