Connect · The case of the pharmacist gasping for breath at 3 a.m.

The case of the pharmacist gasping for breath at 3 a.m.


This story starts out like so many good mysteries with a few beers. I noticed five years ago that when I drank beer I would awaken at 3 am gasping for breath with my heart pounding.

In medical mysteries thefirst thing to do as I taught in my book Are Your Meds Making You Sick is to gather data so I went and bought a pulse ox at a local drug store. A pulse ox will report ones oxygen level and pulse rate. I found that my pulse at 3am after drinking beer was 110 which was high.

I also noted that alcohol is a medication that relaxes the body. Just as in Are Your Meds Making you Sick I looked for additional clues so I bought a pulse ox that would measure my heart rate and oxygen level all night through.

The results were fascinating I found that after a few beers at 3am my oxygen level would go down to 88% 8 times an hour and my heart rate would increase to 110.

So just like in Are Your Meds Making You Sick I laid out the facts. Drinking alcohol relaxes the muscles, my oxygen level goes down and my heart rate goes up.

I researched possible diseases and found the disease I had obstructive Sleep Apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea affect 20 to 30 percent of the males in North America according to

I went to a friend of mine that is a sleep specialist and he tested me and found obstructive sleep apnea. All meds that affect breathing and relaxation can worsen sleep apnea. The medications to worry about include pain meds such as Hydrocodone and sleeping aids such as diphenhydramine.

For more information on drug induced diseases please read my book Are Your Meds Making You Sick.