Can many anatomical issues combined create a perfect storm for sleep apnea?

by Cyndee Gallegos
(Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)

When I was in about 21, I got hit in the face with a baseball, hard. Hard enough to break my jaw, the orbital bone in my cheek and my nose.


They immediately wired my jaw shut for weeks. Then when the swelling went down they re-set the nose and I had a splint for a few weeks.

Flash forward a couple of years and my jaw catches and won't open and I brux like mad.

I then have jaw surgery. Fixes the catching but does nothing for the bruxing or alignment.

A few years later I break my nose but it just requires some tape, ice and aspirin.

All this time, I am a runner. 5k's, 10k's, a few 1/2 marathons. Love to run. And to mix things up, I ride a bike.

A few years later, I suffer a horrible fall and sprain the back and tear the shoulder muscles and rotator cuff. Can't exercise better part of a year.

Fell better start to run again. Things are good for about 5 years, then while running in the dark on a dirt road, I step in a hole and tear up my knee.

A quick scope and off and running for about 7 years. then the knee starts to bother me, and I can't run as long.

Then I fall in love and for a few years we are living together.

I wake up tired and can't focus and get sleepy driving. I think, I have an erratic shift so my sleep is not constant.

I have a girlfriend who likes to stay up. She complains that I snore, loud. So I make an appointment with a ENT, I am diagnosed with sleep apnea.

I am at that time about 41-43 years old. I get a c-pap machine and hate it. Opt for septoplasy surgery which does not help, and still use the c-pap machine.

Because I was in the Army, I traveled from base to base, going from a humid moldy place like South Caroline, Georgia and Virginia to humid and dusty Texas, to Utah and Idaho. And I suffered from chronic sinusitis and rhinositis.

After my second knee surgery, my running days were over. My work schedule was still crazy, now that I retired from the military, I had a desk job and worked long hours.

I gained weight at an alarming rate. Going from 130 -190 in 3 years.

I have been retired from the Army for 12 years, and would like to know if it would be consistent with medical knowledge that a broken jaw that has alignment issues, a deviated septum, chronic sinusitis and rhinositis could be what contributed to me having sleep apnea.

The weight gain didn't happen until after the diagnosis.

Now that I am getting older, post menopausal, and sleep is just harder to both fall and stay asleep, the apnea just makes it that much worse. I am tired all the time.

But I need to find a doctor in Utah, who just won't say lose weight. Duh, yes I would love to, but I was diagnosed before I gained weight and a bad knee, shoulder and tired makes it really hard to find an exercise that I can fit in my schedule.

Any suggestions?
Thank you


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Sep 17, 2013
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It sounds like a storm to me...
by: Remy

Well, I have to admit, this is quite a story. I didn't even imagine someone can hurt himself in this way and causing sleep apnea.

There are not too many people with anatomical problems that can cause sleep apnea. However, you can say that "it's a small world", because I have sleep apnea due jaw abnormality and malocclusion (misalignment of teeth). So, I know how it feels.

I can't give you a certain answer, but I'll risk to say that your sleep apnea started from the moment you've had the baseball accident.

Affected craniofacial features is an important risk factor for sleep apnea, and they include problems like:
- small jaw,
- mandible displacement,
- nasal abnormalities (deviated septum and allergic rhinitis).

By the way, rhinitis is found in many people with sleep apnea, but there is no explanation why these two problems are linked together. A person asked a question related to Vaso Motor Rhinitis, and I guess you want to check this, too.

For more information about the head abnormalities that can provoke sleep apnea please read the table from Causes of Sleep Apnea page.

Sep 18, 2013
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Weight Increase
by: Michelle - Yarrawonga AUSTRALIA

Hi Cyndee,

I completely empathise with you and fully understand the frustration you are going through.
Your concern about your weight is a very interesting one to me. You say the weight gain
didn't happen until after the diagnosis. Correct me if I'm wrong but by what I read, you were diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, commenced using a CPAP machine and then your weight began to increase alarmingly.

The reason I need to clarify this sequence of events is that your experiences and my own appear to be running parallel. When I commenced using CPAP machine, my weight increased expedientially, I was diagnosed morbidly obese at 130kg and ended up having surgery to reduce my weight. I strongly believe there is a link between using a CPAP machine and gaining weight at an alarming rate.

I would be very grateful if you could take the time to respond so I can be assured that I have events in the right sequence.

The more I find out about Sleep Apnea the more I realise what a dangerous sleeping giant it is. I'm sorry I can't address your other issues but I will be following to read the responses. Like I said the situations in our lives are running parallel. Like you I was in the Army and like you I have suffered many anatomical injuries. But my greatest interest is the link between using CPAP and immense weight gain.

Good luck and I'll follow the responses you receive.

Cheers Michelle

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