When Co Antrim golf pro Eamonn Logue’s long suffering wife Julie started to sleep in another room because of his loud snoring he realised that he needed to do something about it.
But the 49-year-old father-of-two wasn’t prepared for the serious wake-up call he received when he went along to Northern Ireland’s new sleep clinic at 3fivetwo Healthcare in Belfast.
Expecting to be given something to quieten his disruptive snoring he instead discovered that he had a potentially life threatening condition.
A test carried out by the clinic revealed that Eamonn’s heart was stopping 18 times in one hour during the night which caused the loud snoring which was upsetting his whole family.
A stunned Eamonn was told he had sleep apnoea, which was causing him to stop breathing for short periods of time, often up to 10 seconds or more throughout the night.
Eamonn, a professional golfer who coaches at the Hilton in Templepatrick and has two sons, Jordan (13), and Mitchel (10), was staggered by the diagnosis.
He says: “I’ve always snored but it did get progressively worse. It had become a real problem in the house because, unless my wife got to sleep before me, she couldn’t sleep and I would wake up in the morning to find she was sleeping in the spare room which is not good for any relationship.
“Even the boys could hear me from their room and when I went to golf tournaments I couldn’t share a room because I couldn’t inflict it on anyone.
“Julie was really suffering. She wasn’t getting enough sleep and would have been tetchy the next day.
“I tried everything including nasal strips and all the old wives’ tales, but nothing worked.
“When I saw online that a new sleep clinic had opened in Belfast we decided to go there.
“They gave me a pulse monitor to put on my finger which was attached to a recording machine which would monitor my sleep overnight. It was very unobtrusive and after one night sleeping with it I had to go back to see the results.
“They told me that my heart had stopped 20 times in one hour between 3am and 4am and then another 15 times in the 40 minutes from 5.10am until 6am.
“It was really frightening to hear that and so completely off the wall. Julie and I both just wondered why we hadn’t gone to see about the snoring sooner.
“If your heart is stopping that many times there is the worry that it could be damaged, especially since I have been snoring since my late teens, so for over 20 years every night that could have been happening.”
Eamonn was fitted with a Mandibular Advancement Device — a mouth guard that was made especially for his mouth to bring the jaw forward helping him to breath more easily while sleeping.
The device, which is similar to a gumshield, has cured the sleep apnoea, which in turn has stopped him snoring.
The difference in the quality of his life and that of his family is remarkable.
“It has been a complete revelation,” says Eamonn. “I’m waking now and Julie is still in bed beside me and I’m not getting pushed and shoved during the night.
“She’s getting a good night’s sleep and feels so much better. I’m also wakening feeling fresher and that feeling is lasting all day.
“With my hand on heart I would urge anyone who is putting up with snoring to go to the clinic and get it checked out.
“Everyone in our house is getting a proper night’s sleep and obviously the health issue has to be at the top of the pinnacle and who knows what the damage would have been to my heart if I hadn’t been diagnosed?”
3Fivetwo Healthcare, based on the Lisburn Road, launched its new state of the art facility to tackle what it says is a growing problem of snoring and sleep apnoea among local adults.
It offers the very latest in screening, diagnosis and treatment for the various causes of snoring and sleep apnoea.
In Northern Ireland an estimated 70,000 people are believed to suffer from snoring and sleep problems, with between two and four per cent believed to have sleep apnoea.
Local ENT consultant surgeon, Mr Robin Adair explains that, as well as being socially embarrassing and an annoying habit, Eamonn’s case illustrates how snoring can actually be the manifestation of an underlying condition that can lead to short and long term medical problems.
“Sleep apnoea is one of the more serious underlying conditions of snoring. This is where a snorer actually stops breathing for short periods of time, often up to 10 seconds or more,” he said.
“When this happens the level of carbon dioxide in the blood rises and the brain, having detected this, wakes the sleeper to take a breath. This causes sleep deprivation which in itself can be dangerous, but can also have an effect on the heart and cause long-term health problems.”
People suffering from sleep apnoea are 10 times more likely to have a road traffic accident and, even more sobering is that, over long periods it will cause poor life quality and affect other organs such as the heart, eventually causing heart strain.
According to Dr Adair there are five main causes of snoring — being overweight, gender (men are three times more likely to snore), drinking alcohol, smoking and getting older.
Statistics show that weight is a major factor in the generation of snoring and sleep apnoea. Almost everyone with a body mass index greater than 30 or a collar size larger than 17, will snore.
Eamonn adds: “People joke about snoring but I think what happened to me shows that it really is no joking matter and you can’t put a price on health — it really is something that needs to be checked out.”
For full details on what the 3fivetwo Sleep Centre offers go to www.3fivetwosleeepclinic.comSidebar
Things that go bump ...
- Around 30 to 50% of all middle aged adults are thought to snore.
- In one survey two-thirds of people said that their partners snored.
- 60% of couples in a snoring household say it ruins their lives
- Loud snoring can reach 90 decibels — equivalent to a passing train.
- Research by Surrey University shows that women are more tolerant than men and less likely to give a dig in the ribs.
- Men at age 30 are three times more likely to snore as women but after the menopause this difference disappears.
- Surgery to the throat is usually by laser or electrical current, with a cure rate of about 80% in pre-selected patients. This is usually done as a day stay in hospital and recovery takes one to two weeks.
- Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is associated with many deadly conditions including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and a trial fibrillation, which causes irregular and rapid heartbeats.
- Typically this can lead to palpitations, breathlessness, angina and the development of blood clots meaning sufferers are at a significantly increased risk of stroke, frequently with a fatal outcome.