Friday, March 03, 2006

Snore Doctors

Ira Flatow had a couple of MDs on his show, Science Friday. They're supposed to be specialists on snoring and sleep apnea. I don't think I'm going out on a limb here to estimate that these guys were possibly the most sleep-inducing doctors on the planet -- possibly a useful trait in their particular specialty. Poor Ira.

Having dealt with doctors most of my life, I feel safe in making the generalization that they are not drawn to their profession because of the opportunity to exercise imagination. They are walking representatives of a Body of Knowledge -- members of the priestly class, strictly forbidden to speak an original thought or indicate approval of speculative discussion. I have known exceptions, but even they were reluctant to acknowledge that a patient might say something worth thinking about, rather than evaluating each utterance as a possible symptom.

In recent months I have heard that snoring can be treated by appropriate exercise. In particular, singing is thought by some to be effective. Learning to play the digeridoo, of all things, has also been cited recently. A caller on the show today suggested that his exaggerated yawning and stretching routine seems, according to his wife's reports, to make a difference. He sounded sane and alert. The docs acted as if he were a foreign gourmand, belching politely after a good meal. I thought that these options had some prima facie appeal, and certainly sounded a lot better than burning out one's soft palate.

One of the good doctors had done an admirable study of mass-market snoring "cures", using a scientific approach. He claimed, very primly, that he was unable to uncover a significant effect. He should have at least chuckled, sniggered or preferably guffawed. One of these devices is a special ring you wear on your finger to stimulate an acupuncture pressure point! The gall of these marketers is limitless. The limp reaction was distressing.

What poor representatives of Science they were. Is it just fear of being sued, or is it some sort of personality disorder?

3/3/2006 9:52 PM

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