How do you know if you suffer from sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep breathing disorder. It is characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep that can last from seconds to minutes.

These interruptions are the result of upper airway collapses that are usually due to anatomical alterations and ineffectiveness of the pharyngeal dilator muscles, which do not have sufficient tone to keep the upper airway patent during sleep.

People with obstructive sleep apnea usually snore very loudly and are often drowsy during the day because they do not have a restful sleep. It is common for them to get up frequently to go to the bathroom, wake up with a dry mouth and headache, and worry that they fall asleep easily during the day.

What is the profile of a sleep apnea patient?

It is more frequent in men than in women although, when women reach menopause, the figures become equal.

On the other hand, overweight, tobacco and/or alcohol consumption are risk factors. In addition, people with small lower jaw, narrow palate, large neck, large tongue or hypertrophied tonsils and vegetations are more at risk of suffering from sleep disordered breathing.

How to treat sleep apnea?

The most conservative treatment is to adopt hygienic dietary measures such as losing weight, not smoking, not drinking alcohol before sleeping, avoiding certain drugs or even sleeping on the side.

Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP), despite being the gold standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, there are a significant number of patients who fail to adapt to its use.

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In simple snoring patients with mild or moderate apnea without comorbidities, the treatment of choice for dental and stomatology specialists is mandibular advancement devices (MAD). This is a treatment modality of increasing use. These are appliances that are placed in the dental arches. In selected patients they help to reduce or eliminate upper airway collapse. They are also proposed for patients with moderate or severe OSA who refuse or cannot tolerate CPAP.

Surgical treatment of soft tissues is recommended when there are some anatomical alterations such as polyps or hypertrophy of the turbinates or tonsils. There are different surgical techniques aimed at improving collapsibility at different levels of the upper airway.

Finally, maxillomandibular surgery performed by maxillofacial surgeons is another surgical option with a high success and cure rate for these patients.