Snoring? Must be because you’re a big, fat fatty

Carrie writes:

My boyfriend and I are both happy fatties.

For years, I’ve been dealing with his snoring, which has complicated a sleep and chronic pain disorder that I have, but he was tentative about going to a specialist because he was certain the doctor would say, “Hey, dude, lose some weight and everything will be peachy keen.” Despite this fear, I finally convinced him to seek a solution for his snoring.

He had a sleep study, which came back relatively normal, and his primary care physician suggeted that he see an ear, nose & throat specialist to see if s/he might be able to further diagnose him and provide treatment.

His appointment with the ENT was yesterday. Despite being able to determine two physical conditions that could result in snoring – a deviated septum and chronic nasal inflammation – the doctor did exactly what my boyfriend had feared: gave him a long lecture about the importance of him losing weight and making assumptions that this was the true cause of his snoring problem. The doctor even recommended specific weight loss programs, all the while looking in my direction as if to say, “Take note, fatty, you could use this advice, too, even though you’re not even my patient.”

As a person with chronic medical conditions, I’ve seen my share of cocky, rude, and fatphobic medical professionals, but this particular specialist was the worst I’ve ever encountered, and he wasn’t even my doctor.

Leave a comment

17 Comments

  1. hsofia

     /  November 7, 2009

    Pretty much every fat person I know has snoring issues, but seeing as how diets don’t work, I think the doctors would be more useful if they actually helped with the snoring instead of trying to “fix” the person’s weight.

    Reply
  2. Doctors like that drive me freaking crazy! I was lucky with the ENT who did my surgery–he did mention weight loss as a general health thing, but only in passing, and only once. The first one I saw, though, doubted surgery would help me and gave me a lecture about sleep apnea. Bunch of lazy bastards, blaming everything on fat!

    Reply
  3. hsofia

     /  November 7, 2009

    PurpleGirl – did the surgery solve the snoring?

    Reply
  4. Erin S.

     /  November 7, 2009

    Skinny people can snore too — my husband is one of them. We met when he was 21. He was (and is) 5’10” and at that time weighed all of 120 to 125. In other words his skinny little tush was firmly planted in the underweight category of their beloved BMI chart. And he snored.

    Now he’s 36, got his middle age spread thing going on, and has gone all the way up to 165-170 or so. So still firmly in the good people category of their beloved chart.

    Guess what? He still snores. No better and no worse than when he was underweight.

    Reply
  5. Lynn Bodoni

     /  November 7, 2009

    I went to see the doctor for something that I didn’t think was fat related. He said that my treatment options were different, and more limited, because I was fat, but I could still be treated. Then he grinned at me and said “Well, I guess you know that we doctors like to blame as many conditions on obesity as we can” and I grinned back and said “NO! I hadn’t noticed that at all!”

    He’s probably in the “obese” category, but it’s sort of hard for me to tell, because for years, I’ve been trying to avoid making that sort of judgment about other people.

    I think that I’m going to choose doctors that have at least a few extra pounds themselves, now, rather than the toothpicks.

    Reply
  6. Patsy Nevins

     /  November 7, 2009

    And, just for the record, I know plenty of thin people who snore. My experience has been that almost everyone snores at one time or another. Of course, if there is a physical issue, it should be taken care of, but it should not be connected to body size.

    Reply
  7. I posted a story similar to this a while back. My (thin) grandfather snored so loudly that I could hear him from across the house. I had breathing problems as a (thin) child and, though I never actually snored, I do breathe heavily while sleeping. Even when I was only “overweight” I had a doctor tell me to lose weight and it would just go away. She didn’t even look at my chart to see that this was always an issue and that I’d had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was 12 to help the problem. Some people are just too stuck in their own way of thinking.

    Reply
  8. Erin

     /  November 7, 2009

    fat lets a lazy doctor get a few more min into his day. all he has to say is OMG you are FAT its YOUR FAULT! and then proceed to take your money.

    Reply
  9. hsofia, I don’t snore, according to my husband. And I’m fat. And so is he, and he doesn’t snore either. So no, not every fat person has a snoring problem.

    My doctor decided I MUST have sleep apnea years ago because, OMG fat. After a sleep study, no apnea. Duh. The source of the issues I was having at the time turned out to be asthma but he was so sure it was fat. Needless to say, no longer my doctor.

    Reply
  10. AliciaMaud

     /  November 7, 2009

    I had a nurse who examined me prior to a sleep study say, “Oh, here’s the problem! The opening in your throat is so small that I can’t even get the tool I use to examine you into the passage without numbing you, because it would be too painful!” After the sleep study, when they found I snored (which I already knew), she said “Well, lose some weight and it will get better.”

    Hmm. So now losing weight alters the size of one’s trachea?

    Reply
  11. richie79

     /  November 7, 2009

    “he was tentative about going to a specialist because he was certain the doctor would say, “Hey, dude, lose some weight and everything will be peachy keen.””

    Snap. I’m told I snore like ‘a buzz-saw’, to the point that friends can’t share a hotel room with me on weekends away. My wife thinks I have sleep apnea, which would figure, because my father, from whom I seem to get most of my genes, has exactly the same issues. And yet I *know* that if I ask my GP for a sleep study and maybe a CPAP I’ll be handed a pile of WW lit and a food diary instead. Genetics? Typical fatty excuse dontcha know!?!

    Reply
  12. hsofia

     /  November 8, 2009

    buttercup – I didn’t say all fat people snore. I know that’s not the case.

    Reply
  13. Christine

     /  November 8, 2009

    My doctor wants to send me for a sleep study because she’s convinced I have sleep apnea. I have exactly one risk factor – I’m fat. But as far as actual symptoms, nada. No daytime exhaustion, dozing off while watching TV or eating dinner. No excessive snoring. I don’t even sleep on my back, which is the position in which sleep apnea is most likely to occur. Heck, the fact that she prescribes me sleeping pills because I can’t fall asleep should have tipped her off, but she’s apparently been blinded and mesmerized by teh fat. It’s so damn frustrating.

    Reply
  14. Eve

     /  November 8, 2009

    I want to say it has nothing to do with weight, but my boyfriend seems to have a threshold, towards the lower end of his setpoint range (or possibly below it), above which he snores. He is convinced that if he just loses weight and keeps it off, the snoring will be fixed. I don’t agree, because whenever he gets sick or can’t exercise for whatever reason, he gains a few pounds and the snoring comes back. We will have to work on it some more, I guess…eventually he’s not going to be able to exercise so much and he probably will be a chronic snorer. Also, his father has apnea so he’s likely to have it as well.

    Reply
  15. My husband snores so loud that he wakes himself up several times a night. He always had this problem, he’s heavier than when we first met, but all of his weight has shifted from his face and neck to his midsection. He has a constant sinus problem, he has to clear his nose to smell anything and he’s been like that for the 10+ years I’ve known him. Unfortunately for me, my husband has to sleep on an incline to manage his acid reflux, so it’s easier for him to sleep on his back. I think he did get irrigated once and that solved the problem for about a week.

    I really think that snoring isn’t weight related for most of the people who have problems. If you have the means to do so, get a second opinion. It could be sleep apnea, it could be an untreated sinus problem, and I think that ENT was extremely lazy.

    Reply
  16. O.C.

     /  November 8, 2009

    Y’all, if you have apnea or think you do, take it seriously. Fight your way past the fatphobic doctors and get it examined and treated. A doctor friend of mine has been researching apnea, and it’s much scarier than we realize. It can CAUSE high blood pressure. It can CAUSE glaucoma. These are more than correlations, but causal relationships. And yes, they happen to thin people too.

    Reply
  17. I have a positive family history of apnea (the worst sufferers were not overweight) so when I went to the doctor complaining of daytime exhaustion he took one look, barely examined me and diagnosed weight-related sleep apnea. Because of my family history I didn’t question him.

    Fast-forward a year and change, and a doctor who is treating me for mental illness finds out that I have chronic migraines in addition to the exhaustion and decides to try a low dose of amitriptyline (generic Elavil) to see if at least the migraines can be addressed.

    We were in for a surprise! Not only did the migraines go away, but the exhaustion did too. Turned out the weird mix of chemicals in my brain, that I already knew was causing mental illness, had created a very mild sleeping disorder as well. I don’t have sleep apnea at all.

    It angers me to think that I went as long as I did, thinking I had it, simply because I hadn’t thought to ask a doctor to explore ALL the options even when something seemed particularly obvious. Because after all, if you’re fat and have a history, it must be weight-related sleep apnea.

    I never went back to the doctor who gave me that diagnosis.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: