Obstructive sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that occurs when the sufferer sleeps. It is caused by the airway becoming narrowed or partially blocked, resulting in snoring.
During obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles of the upper throat relax, so that air passes with difficulty through the narrow passage left by the closed tissues. Thus, when breathing is restored, snoring usually occurs.
Breathing usually returns to normal after 30 seconds, but this pause can be dangerous and even fatal because of the consequences of oxygen deprivation.
Snoring is the symptom that alerts the patient to sleep apnea. However, not all people who snore suffer from sleep apnea.
Causes of sleep apnea
The main causes that produce sleep apnea are:
- Class II malocclusion, whereby the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw.
- Deformation of the palate
- Neck too big
- Large tongue, since it can block the airway when relaxing during sleep.
- Tonsils that are overgrown and can block the airway.
The main problem with sleep apnea is that it happens when the patient is sleeping, so he is not aware of it. It has to be a person close to the patient who becomes aware of the pathology due to the snoring and suggests to go to the dental specialist. Thus, the lack of sleep ends up affecting the apnea sufferer and those who sleep nearby.
Apnea is the cause of many visible symptoms, especially in overweight men:
- During sleep: snoring, pauses in breathing, frequent and sudden movements, excessive sweating, shortness of breath or suffocation, drooling or salivation.
- During the day: lack of concentration, memory loss, mood swings, isolation, depression, sleeping late or performing tasks such as driving, morning headache.
If sleep apnea is not treated, it is associated with certain coronary diseases that can lead to fatal consequences, such as arterial and coronary hypertension, arrhythmias, cardiovascular accidents, sudden death or myocardial infarction.