by Dr A H Hodson M.A.(Oxon),M.R.C.S.,L.R.C.P.,F.R.S.M.
of the Coleford Allergy Clinic
The background to snoring is a blocked nose which induces breathing through the mouth. The individuals are not necessarily mouth breathers by day, at least not obviously either to themselves or to others, but they may be 'catarrhal' in so far as they always have to carry handkerchiefs with them. So first let us progress from 'Why Snoring' to 'Why Blocked Nose.'
Blocked nose is the commonest allergic sign which, in children, is missed by family doctors, consultants and mothers. Most children with blocked nose have their lips so slightly separated that they simply look relaxed and rather pretty. Mother may refer to a child’s 'noisy' or 'heavy' breathing at night, but only if asked.
The adult tends to acquire a certain shape to the mouth which displays the upper front teeth. When I ask a patient about a blocked nose and receive a negative reply, I make a note and do not pursue the subject further, This is because
- Patients have invariably come with other complaints.
- The Environmental Therapy Management is basically similar for every patient.
- There have been patients who, in the course of management volunteer the information that it is wonderful to be able to breathe through the nose.
It is wonderful for them because they have never been able to do so before. Until this moment they have not known anything was wrong. Consequently it is the life-long permanently blocked nose patient who, when asked if the nose is blocked answers 'No.'
Blocked nose is an allergic phenomenon. Conventional allergists have not recognised this because they persist in methods of testing which were born in the mid-thirties and should have been discarded 20 years ago. In relative terms they are useless when compared with the testing methods described by Joseph Miller in his book 'Provocative Testing and Injection Therapy' published by Charles C Thomas - Springfield Illinois USA in 1972. Richard MacKarness practised 'Miller Tests' at Park Prewitt Hospital in the early seventies, but the scientific experts ignored the primary rule of science which is 'go and see for yourself.' They grimly stick to the out of date methods which gave rise to the myth that there is no such thing as food allergy, commonly an associate of blocked nose.
Self Testing of allergies to foods is possible, but misconceptions may arise in the absence of supervision. I ask patients to do The Stone Age Diet which leaves out the items of diet commonly known to have allergic associations. Richard MacKarness in his book 'Chemical Victims' published by Pan Books Ltd, London 1980 [regrettably out of print] described the diet and the reasons for it. Following the period prescribed for diet, the items abstained from are systematically reintroduced in the form of 'Challenge.'
My own experience was to do the diet because I had prescribed it, in 1982, for a group of patients in my NHS practice whom neither I nor consultants seemed able to help. I felt a martyr because although there was nothing wrong with me, I was having to forgo my toast for breakfast. At the end of the prescribed period, the first items on my plate for breakfast were two slices of dry toast. The fist was lovely, and, as I started on the second slice, I thought 'Thank goodness for the end of this nonsense,' until half way through the second slice, my chest suddenly seized up, together with an acutely painful upper abdominal pain.
For years a mild asthmatic, I had never before been virtually unable to breathe, Also for years, a succession of anti-acid preparations had passed my lips so smoothly that they were almost unnoticed.
I was due to begin surgery in 20 minutes. I took an overdose of Asthma tablets and anti-acids, and, apart from some palpitations was able to attend surgery in a reasonably tidy order, if a bit shaken.
It was a lesson well learnt: No more bread, toast, cake, pastries or wheat contained in things like batter on the fish and chips, I felt so much better. Asthma pills and anti-acids were forgotten and finally lost.
My family, with their customary nocturnal dispersal to the far corners, i.e. the furthest form me, was slow to notice anything, A cautious whisper from one to another duly spread into a kind of ganging-up in order that all might witness that I no longer snored, A spokesman thereafter referred to the 'miracle.' I was as blissfully unaware of the miracle as I had been on my former sins, but I accepted congratulations without complaint.
The explanation for the phenomenon was already known to the British Society for Allergy and Environmental Medicine (BSAEM) in conjunction with the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. Their agreed belief is that we overload our immune processes by habitually consuming certain foods or drink every day of our lives for years. This is the way we create dietary allergies, but we don not suspect them because such allergies are 'masked.'
Masking of an allergy removes the direct sighs and symptoms of the allergy. The allergy itself is not removed but goes underground where it beavers away creating insidious degenerative processes of a great variety, which may include, in some patients, variable degrees of nasal obstruction.
If in the course of a restricted diet, we have successfully excluded items which have induced masked allergies, the masking of such items goes away, so that we revert to our original sensitivity.
My nasty surprise was nothing if not convincing, but allergies are individual affairs, and such sharp reactions are not common. Wheat allergy is common, but, if the views of the BSAEM are correct, after two generations of combined government and milk marketing board propaganda, the whole population must have become cow milk allergic. I had personally stopped milk following separate observations related in correspondence in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
In the presence of a masked dietary allergy, nasal symptoms may be minimal by day, but, if there is also an allergy to House Dust, House Mite, Feathers or the Cat, there can be summation of allergies at night, inducing a blocked nose when sleeping.
Snoring and obesity seem to go together. Patients who do the Stone Age Diet for two weeks often lose half a stone, and if they cannot be got off the diet, develop an enormous appetite but continue to lose excess weight. This observation seems to conflict with the calorie theory of obesity. My own weight slowly went down from 15½ to 12½ stones.