Mark Makuza snores so loudly while asleep but for many years he did not realise it was a problem until he got married. Doctors say his parents should have intervened when he was still child.
“I got to know that I was abnormal when I got my first wife,’’ says the 36-year-old resident of Misungwi District in Mwanza Region.
“My wife could poke me several times at night, complaining of how I was making her uncomfortable with the loud noise. She could not sleep peacefully. Later she abandoned me,” he tells Your Health.
As Makuza narrates his ordeal, he recalls his teenage days when some of his relatives and friends appeared curious about his breathing pattern.
None of his parents, says Mukuza, had thought it was a problem that required medical attention.
Not even at school, that Makuza’s problem was detected. “Whenever I dozed off in class, my fellow students just made fun of me. Personally, I thought it was funny too and had nothing to do with my health,’’ said Mukuza.
Months and years passed, he says. The problem became more serious. Then, he got another woman to marry.
In 2009, he courted and married Suzan from Tabora Region.
“I believed Suzan was going to be my life partner,’’ says Mukuza, “But I was wrong. Soon, she started complaining of the snoring too and tried to find ways of coping.”
“At one moment, she had to find a coping mechanism. She could sleep during the entire daytime to compensate for the lost night sleep,’’ he recalls. “Suzan was a nice person to me but she didn’t like my snoring habit. I never took action. I didn’t know it was a problem.”
Mukuza re-married the third time
“I had to remarry in 2011. I felt I couldn’t stay without a wife,’’ he says. “I got Aisha from Tanga Region, but she did not last long in the relationship. She left me. At that point, my mother got so concerned about this,” Mukuza adds.
Parents had to chip in
Mukuza’s parents began realising that something had to be done. However, their decision was to take him to a herbalist in Nzega District, Tabora region, where he was introduced to a herbal concoction of green grounded leaves. This, he says did not help.
Later in the year 2010 Mukuza went to another herbalist in Mabuki ward, about 30 kilometers from his home village. But he did not get any relief.
“I had to pay Sh150,000 and the herbalist convinced me that the problem would be resolved within days,’’ he says.
Hospital admission, then, strange coping mechanisms “Finally, I had to go to the hospital,’’ he says. Mukuza was admitted at Nyamagana District Hospital in Mwanza where he was diagnosed and given instructions on how to sleep at night.
“But this has not helped. It reached a point I thought I was bewitched. I became worried, I feared even to sleep in a lodge because I would disrupt other people’s sleep,” he narrates.
“I later got a single room at Mabatini Street where most buildings are set on hilly areas. I knew that since houses were far apart, my snoring would not disturb the neighbours,” he says.
In 2015, Mukuza found another woman to live with, her name was Monica. With her, he thought of a new technique that would help maintain his relationship.
He found a job as a night guard so that he would use this as an excuse to spend his nights at work. He made all these efforts to ensure he bears a child with Monica.
But, Monica couldn’t cope and left him within a month. She was always mad at him due to the noise he was making whenever he would be resting after a night at the job.
“I would come early in the morning and have a rest. The moment I slept, I could make a lot of noise. This made Monica frustrated. She believed I could infect her with the problem,’’ says Mukuza, a trained mechanic.
The drama continues
Recently, he tried out another way of living with a woman. “I now stay with another woman, Eunice. But we live in a funny way. After she realised that I have this snoring problem, she tried some ways of coping with me. She comes in the morning and leaves in the evening,” Mukuza explains his current relationship ordeal.
Did medics treat his problem?
Later, he says, he went to a private health facility at Igoma in Mwanza where again he was introduced to new drugs such as syrups but they did not work.
Mukuza says that during his various visits at the hospitals, he was advised by medics on how to sleep at night and how to reduce his body weight.
“I wondered when one medic told me to change pillows on my bed while I had no pillows,” he says. He admits that, since he began looking for a solution to his poor breathing mechanism, he has never found a reliable one.
Doctors speak out
According to Tabora Regional Medical officer, Dr Gunini Kamba, snoring can be treated but that depends on the extent of the problem.
“One of the basic remedies for people who snore is physical exercises. By practicing this, they will easily lose weight and keep their airways and postures right,’’ he told Your Health.
Dr Leonard Subi, Mwanza Regional Medical Officer, explains how one could end up snoring. As one reaches middle age and beyond, he says, one’s throat becomes narrower. “The muscle tone in the throat decreases. When it’s too late for one to intervene, lifestyle changes, new bedtime routines, and throat exercises can all help to prevent snoring.”
He says that fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Even if one is not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around the neck or throat can cause snoring.
“Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often genetic. Again, while you have no control over your build or gender, you can control your snoring with the right lifestyle changes, bedtime routines, and throat exercises,” says.
Another medic, Dr Baraka Maginga of Pasiansi Sabbath Health Centre in Mwanza, the blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
“At times sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway. Changing your sleep position can help to reduce snoring,” he says.
Mukuza is currently working in a motor-vehicle garage in the city as a day worker.