9/11 And Obstructive Sleep Apnea

As I was riding the subway, I noticed an ad by the New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation promoting services for victims of the World Trade Enter disaster on  9/11. It asked about common symptoms that are seen after this tragedy, including chronic upper respiratory or breathing problems, poor sleep, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

This add reminded me of a conversation I had with a patient a few years ago that worked as an official for the city in helping people with these illnesses. She did agree with me that many people were affected, but there were others that didn’t suffer the same degree of physical or emotional problems, despite being in the same environment.

My suspicion is that if you have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, you’ll be much more susceptible to these medical issues. Massive amounts of inflammation caused by inhaling dust, fumes, toxic chemicals and smoke can be a major irritant to the upper airways. The emotional trauma of going through such an event can lead to PTSD.

I’ve written in the past about how a sleep-breathng problem can heighten your nervous and immune systems, making you over-react to any form of stimulation or irritation. Additional inflammation in the nose or throat causes more swelling, aggravating more breathing stoppages, leading to more stomach juice reflex, leading to more frequent obstructions. The hypersensitivity that results in the nose leads to increased nasal congestion, aggravating even more obstructions downstream. Poor sleep can then lead to weight gain, leading to even worse sleep apnea.

Notice how many of the symptoms of people suffering from 9/11 trauma are very similar to some war veterans returning from battle. In many cases treating veterans with PTSD by addressing any underlying sleep apnea can help PTSD dramatically. The same concept can and should be applied to 9/11 victims as well.

Do you suffer  from these medical conditions since 9/11? If so, do you snore, and are tired all the time no matter how long you sleep? Are you not able to sleep on your back?

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