My husband Sam told me that I was snoring a little last night! Since that is highly unusual for me, I started to wonder what provoked it. Was it the smokey haze all over Colorado, or was it allergies? Could it be some supplement I took or a food that I ate? My mind was racing because I was slightly embarrassed. We’ve been married since 1998 and this has never happened. He is not a snorer either. Then it dawned on me, I took a big hit of dairy that day! And also the day before with some amazing cheese I found.
I had lattes made with half-and-half and two slices of gluten-free pizza. Did I mention two chocolate chip cookies and some Greek yogurt during Big Brother? (Watching Vanessa play the Austwins and Johnny Mac stress me out).
So anyway, I really indulged in dairy, and it always creates sinus problems for me. Sometimes I sneeze quickly due to the IgE antibodies I make (… get to that in a minute). I started to research and came across some great studies in the literature that tie up snoring to food sensitivities, especially in children (but also in adults). Now I will share that research with you in the hopes that I can give you a better night’s sleep. And for the record, my snoring is happily gone. Not that we are having a slumber party, but I want you to get that visual out of your head. I sleep like a baby, and a quiet one too. Snoring isn’t sexy so I don’t want to do it again if I can control it. Anyway, do you know someone that snores all night?
It gets serious folks!
It causes marital conflict, it causes crankiness. Don’t let snoring ruin your relationship or cause sleep deprivation. Snoring may be controllable. Let’s talk about the kiddos now. What about your sweet child? How many earaches has he or she been medicated for? I sadly wonder how many children have undergone tonsillectomies due to repeated infections? Maybe those kids could have kept their tonsils and just went off foods that are known to trigger the problem, as well as earaches, respiratory infections and asthma. It’s true. Studies point to food allergies or sensitivities as one underlying cause of snoring and a common complication of ear aches for children. Food sensitivities can actually be the very thing that is triggering the snore, just like it did in me.
Researchers have tested the theory of food allergies causing something called “adenotonsillar hypertrophy” or ATH. That is the medical term for enlarged adenoids, and adenoids are patches of lymph tissue near the tonsils in the upper airway. Adenoids and tonsils are part of the immune system and protect against germs that we swallow or breathe in. They actually produce antibodies to fight germs that enter our body.
From birth to age 6, these tissues grow as the immune system develops. They slowly shrink unless there problems. Instead of shrinking, adenoids swell up in response to food allergies, the top 3 offenders being milk, eggs and cod. Don’t ask me why cod is in the top three but it is! Anyway, when adenoids swell up, your child will snore quickly after falling asleep and make noise from challenged breathing. Complications of ATH include chronic ear infections, ear pain, stuffy nose, swollen glands in the neck, snoring and respiratory infections. Children and adults are usually offered antibiotics for these conditions, which almost makes sense unless you ask a few critical questions:
1. Is this a chronic problem?
2. What foods do you typically consume?
3. Does your throat culture grow a pathogen?
You know where I’m going with this don’t you? If not, I’ll tell you. If it’s diet related the answer to these questions will differ from a true infection. ATH will make this a chronic problem, and the child will be eating common allergens, especially mucus-producing foods like dairy. And a culture will come back negative because there will be no pathogenic growth from a food allergy. Unfortunately, a swab or culture isn’t even attempted because you or your child ‘presents’ with what looks like a cold so the physician doesn’t bother, he just writes a prescription for a Z-pak or Amoxicillin. I hope my point is clear, ATH may be behind the snoring, obstructive sleep apnea and all that mouth breathing. ATH has probably caused some divorces right?! If you think about it, that makes sense. Poor sleep makes you cranky. It’s the chronic sleep deprivation which by the way, can hasten one’s death.
Treatment for snoring is limited, or involves a very sharp knife.
Typical early-in-the-game recommendations like “Lose more weight!” don’t work.
Why? You can be skinny and still have ATH because it is food allergy related.
This is important, snoring reflects a symptom. You may argue that snoring isn’t a symptom it’s a disease that runs in families. I don’t agree. Snoring may be common within families because certain genes may be passed down that increase your odds for snoring, but don’t actually cause it. For example, a SNP in your DAO gene may cause you to have more histamine, which worsens allergies and sensitivities across the board! Unfortunately, mention the word SNP to a doc in relations to your snoring and you’ll be told that I’m a quack. (Wouldn’t be the first time, but I know if you’re reading this or you’ve been listening to me for the last 20 years, you are healthier for it). I’m not the sensitive sort, and I assure you, it is possible, if not probable.
“It” being food sensitivities, yet to be diagnosed.
You just have to trust me on this. The answer to snoring is usually drugs or surgery, or an uncomfortable alien-looking mask. These may be game changers and I’m not downing them, but they are not always the cure. And for the record, I’m not enthralled with kids having their tonsils or adenoids removed. In fact, I’m utterly disgusted by how quickly kids are wheeled into surgery for this.
I’m all for managing swollen adenoids and tonsils without cutting out your God-given parts. Keep ’em as long as you can. Here comes my favorite part, the research, so if you find research boring, you have my blessings to skip down to the bottom of this article for the nuts and bolts.
Research (you have my blessings to scroll down now if research bores you) 😉
Recent research found allergic inflammation within the glands and tonsils are provoking the swollen tissue. The allergic inflammation was IgG or Type III, which is a delayed response to foods. When I say “delayed” I mean it, we are not talking about eating something and then immediately sneezing or having diarrhea. Basically the “delayed” immune complexes show up after about three hours, but could take up to 2 weeks to develop the full allergic response! How would you know that vanilla ice cream you ate was to blame if your allergic response occurred a few days later? It’s due to the development of IgG antibodies, as opposed to IgE ones.
If you’re reading this aloud, you just pronounce the 3 letters there when you say it, just say “I-G-G” that’s it. But you write it with the capitals the way I’ve designated it. Because I sneeze almost immediately when I get into dairy I am dealing with IgE antibodies. If you have a quick response to food like diarrhea or lip swelling it could be your IgE antibodies. IgE is fast. There’s another one too, IgA. Don’t worry too much about the initials of IgG and IgE and Ig whatever… I simply want you to know that IgG is slow, and IgE is fast and occurs within minutes and it’s usually driven by histamine. Can you test for IgG, IgE or IgA immunoglobulins? Yes you can. It’s pretty easy. But unfortunately, testing for anything other than IgE antibodies isn’t often performed at a traditional allergist’s office. But luckily, holistic immunologists, allergy specialists and Functional Medicine doctors are usually very familiar with special tests that check for different immunoglobulins.
I’m Done With Research Now
I’m going to make you really smart now. Remember this because it is a big deal. If you pursue testing as mentioned above, you should know that research shows that blood samples versus local tissue tests appear DIFFERENT. In the studies I reviewed, the IgE allergic response was happening in adenoids and tonsils, but the IgE immune compounds were NOT showing up in the blood stream. The lymph tissue contained the allergic response to the area. This means you may still have allergic responses, but your IgE blood test will be negative. This is called a “false negative” and could mislead you dreadfully. The allergic response is there, but your blood test is showing up false.
I’m shaking my finger and saying “Bad blood test!”
What this also means is you may be told food sensitivities have nothing to do with your problem. And I’m saying that food sensitivities and intolerances MUST be eliminated to fully relieve the allergic inflammation and swollen tissue. You cannot depend on an IgE blood test as I’ve explained above. If you deal with chronic snoring, sleep apnea, swollen tonsils or enlarged adenoids, it makes sense to find out the underlying cause. And if you can’t, at least do a trial diet that is free of common allergens. It makes me sad that surgeons are quick to cut out organs when they get swollen. Why not take a few weeks to figure out what caused the swelling instead of the chop-chop? I simply do not get it! It’s like carving out your ‘first line of defense’ tissue, a major part of your immune system.
Please folks, this is a good rule of thumb: Keep your body parts as long as you can, they are there for a reason. Even that appendix which everyone says is useless — it’s not. It is a garage for your natural probiotics.
For some of you, especially kids, it could be as simple as cutting out dairy and eggs for at least a month. You should be able to tell in that time frame. If things improve and there are fewer visits to the pediatrician then keep at it. Same for adults! While you’re teasing out what is driving your snoring, make sure to work on the basics. Obviously, sleep hygiene is important. And maintaining a healthy posture (instead of slouching like me) is important. Surprisingly, head, jaw, neck, and shoulder posture affects not only circulation, but also lymph movement and drainage.
Slumped posture all day while your checking email and working at the computer will cause rounded shoulders and impede healthy circulation and drainage. Check in with your favorite chiropractor for help with this and maybe take up yoga. I am married to a chiropractor, and I cannot begin to tell you how awesome it feels to get in alignment. Immune boosting supplements can be helpful, and you can use my search box to read my opinion about immune supplements.
But I want to be up front with you, NOTHING you take as a supplement offsets the damage done by food sensitivities. We haven’t even touched on the subject of intestinal permeability and how a leaky gut can lead to chronic intractable fatigue, mood instability, weakness, hair loss, memory loss and easy shortness of breath. The intestinal permeability (termed “leaky gut”) has to be repaired in order to feel better.
Anyway, the point of today’s article is to remind you to consider food antigens as a root cause to your snoring. Or snoring in your child. The offending foods have to be removed, and removed for probably 3 to 6 months to see the optimal results. As a side effect, breathing and asthma may improve too. The adenoids and tonsils will eventually shank and your breathing will improve, both day and night. But if you really want to know my faves for immuno-supportive supplements, I’d say to include the following: Probiotics, vitamin D, quercetin (which by the way reduces histamine too), and green drinks that contain chlorophyll. Put these in my search box to learn more.
Lin Chung Er Bi Yan Hou Tou Jing Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2013 Jun;27(12):636-8.
[The discussion on relationship between adenoids hypertrophy and food intolerance].
Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2013 Aug;24(5):422-6. doi: 10.1111/pai.12089. Epub 2013 Jun 3.
Local atopy is more relevant than serum sIgE in reflecting allergy in childhood adenotonsillar hypertrophy.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.