What are apnea, hypopnea and rhoncopathies?
According to the dictionary of the Royal Academy, apnea is the lack of air intake and that is what divers do. That apnea in some people we manage to close the airway completely at bedtime. Because our jaw is relaxed as are relaxed all the muscles of our body and if you sleep on your back the jaw goes backwards. In a normal person that movement backwards of the jaw produces a decrease of the airway, but does not close it completely, you can sleep perfectly. But there are people that this airway closes completely and it is what is called sleep apnea, or partially closes and it is what is called hypopnea. Hoarseness is the vibration of the soft tissues of the soft palate and surrounding tissues. It is as if we take air, a lot of it, and we release it with great force but we close our lips. What happens in the lips? Well, they vibrate, that vibration is rhoncopathy. Small apneas are normal. But when that total apnea exceeds ten seconds it is considered pathological.
How can I know if I have apnea?
Before, if you snored, you snored and that was it, but you did not know any more. Nowadays there are absolutely objective tests such as polysomnography or amneolin to do it at home. One you have to sleep in the hospital and the other you can do it at home in which a series of parameters of your body are controlled.
But if you have not done any of these tests, you should know that apnea usually presents with an almost continuous sleepiness, tiredness, reluctance. This is in adults because in children it is curious that it presents with the opposite, with hyperactivity. Another thing is that in the mornings you wake up and your pajamas are completely sweaty, the bed is thrown away, because when you have a prolonged apnea your brain wakes you up, makes you move and you spend the night agitated to one side and the other.
And, children, it goes with drowsiness; a very clear question is if from school to your house in the car you fall asleep, that child has to do some objective tests because while you have apnea the brain is not oxygenating, and it may be behind school failures, it is behind many car accidents. And who does not know someone who, very young, 45 or 50 years old, has had a heart attack being healthy, worried about his health. Now we are seeing that these young infarctions and these cerebral hemorrhages, behind many of them there is an apnea.
What are the treatments for apnea?
In dentists, in dental offices we offer these, which are called SAMs (mandibular advancement system) in which at the time of closing forces the mandible to advance. There are several systems on the market. On the other hand there is the CEPAP, which injects pressurized air, which passes even if the airway is closed. There is, which is put in the nose, or are masks for mouth breathers. But really the only curative treatment is orthognathic surgery, in which we advance the jaws and we can see how in this patient the airway, which was very small, has increased a lot. And these patients, for life, will not need any other type of treatment.