Sleep Apnea – Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (ASD)
In obstructive sleep apnea, the upper airways are usually narrowed during sleep. The muscles relax and the tongue falls backwards, causing the airway to close completely. Patients after trying to breathe with great difficulty, then wake up. As a result their sleep is interrupted several times each night. This results in intense tiredness and drowsiness during the day with reduced efficiency and increased risk of accidents.
Narrowing of the pharynx from the fall of the tongue is one of the main causes of obstructive sleep apnea. The severity of the syndrome depends on the number of apnea episodes that occur per hour during sleep. Up to 5 episodes per hour is considered to be no apnea syndrome as long as there are no clinical symptoms.
Mild Degree: 5 – 14 episodes per hour.
Moderate Score: 15 – 29 episodes per hour.
Severe: 30 or more episodes per hour.
The clinical signs of apnea syndrome are:
- Intense snoring and restless sleep
- Small awakenings or awakening with a feeling of drowning, in prolonged apnea
- Morning headaches
- Daily fatigue and drowsiness
- Impairment of memory and ability to concentrate
- Sexual dysfunction – impotence
- Nocturnal urination
For mild to moderate cases, dentistry offers anterior mandibular guiding devices to free the airway. These are mobile (removable) devices that are placed in the mouth before going to bed. With these, the lower jaw is pushed forward, as a result of which the tongue is displaced at the same time and the airway is released.
Patients with snoring or sleep disturbances during sleep should first consult a specialist (ENT, Pulmonologist). The specialist can determine if there is a sleep disorder, which can be treated with the help of an anterior guidance device of the lower jaw.
In most cases, snoring can be reduced so much that the partners can sleep next to each other again without any discomfort. In addition the patient begins to enjoy his sleep without unnecessary interruptions and feels rested throughout the day.