Sleep apnea – what is it? Symptoms, methods of treatment

Bezdech senny Objawy, leczenie, skutki

Awareness of the risks associated with sleep apnea has increased dramatically in recent years. More and more people are realizing that apnea does not simply mean that they snore at night, but that this condition, if not properly treated, carries a serious and sometimes even fatal threat.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disease associated with breathing disorders during sleep. The causes of problems can be various. Central sleep apnea, in which the upper respiratory tract is partially closed due to malfunction of the nervous system, occurs relatively rarely. In 99 cases out of 100, obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed, connected to the occurrence of a mechanical obstacle in the respiratory tract. The remaining 1% of cases are central apnea with mixed apnea, of both neurological and mechanical background.

Does sleep apnea also affect children?

In children, sleep apnea occurs sporadically. It is a condition that affects the majority of adults, mainly men. It is estimated that obstructive sleep apnea affects 2-4% of men.

Sleep apnea – symptoms

The basic symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. While there might be other reasons for snoring, it accompanies all cases of apnea. What else?

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
  • is manifested by frequent awakenings, which are often accompanied by tightening of the throat muscles, a feeling of difficulty in breathing, perceptible heart rhythm disturbances, or simply an elevated heart rate.
  • One of the symptoms of sleep apnea may be severe morning headaches. In some patients, they are felt especially within the sinuses, although this is not the rule.
  • Some patients with obstructive sleep apnea experience increased sweating during sleep and frequent urination.

Daytime symptoms of sleep apnea may also include increased irritability, general fatigue, chapped lips, swollen throat, difficulty concentrating and remembering, and other symptoms usually associated with insufficient or poor-quality sleep. Men also report erectile dysfunction.

Causes of sleep apnea

The immediate cause of the sleep apnea episode is abnormal tension in the throat muscles, which impedes ventilation but can occur for many reasons.

  • Abnormalities in the structure of the upper respiratory tract: curved nasal septum, polyps, etc.
  • Overgrown or diseased tissues.
  • Incorrect mandibular structure or poorly selected dentures, as well as some types of malocclusion.
  • Hypertrophy of the palatine tonsils.

Additional risk factors contributing to the increased occurrence of apnea:

  • overweight or obesity hindering the respiratory movement of the abdomen or affecting the functioning of the respiratory tract muscles;
  • hypertension and cardiac disorders;
  • consuming alcohol or smoking.

Sleep apnea – effects of untreated sleep apnea

A single episode of sleep apnea is usually not a threat if the decrease in saturation does not last long. In the long run, however, sleep apnea prevents proper sleep and nighttime recovery, increasing the risk of unconscious sleep episodes or attention deficits during the day, which is very dangerous for drivers, for example. In addition, the long-term effects of untreated OBS are:

  • heart muscle disorders;
  • the risk of developing hypertension;
  • heart attacks and ischemic strokes;
  • increased risk of certain lung diseases.

Sleep apnea – treatment

The first step is to take care of your overall health. The patient should change their lifestyle and reduce their body weight if these are risk factors in their case. In addition, the treatment of sleep apnea comes down to the removal of obstructions in the respiratory tract. Excision of polyps or correction of the nasal septum is performed by a surgeon. However, very often apnea is caused by problems in the oral cavity, and then a dentist or prosthetist can help.

Correction of the bite or treatment of diseases of the temporomandibular joints may be crucial if they cause incorrect positioning of the mandible during sleep. The prosthetist may also recommend dentures that fix the mandible permanently or with a degree of protrusion.

What tests are performed to diagnose sleep apnea?

To confirm or reject the diagnosis of sleep apnea, the airflow through the airway should be analyzed. In a patient who complains of fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness, and sudden nighttime awakenings, the throat and larynx can be examined endoscopically.

Take a deep breath and stay safe

Sleep apnea syndrome is a condition that cannot be underestimated. Luckily, obstructive apnea is treatable. The sooner you see a specialist, the faster you can take a deep breath again. Get in touch! If your apnea treatment requires the intervention of a dentist or a dental surgeon, we will be able to help you!