Sleep apnea

How to recognize sleep apnea

Sleep apnea, when a person repeatedly stops breathing in their sleep and can sometimes wake up not breathing, affects between 1% and 10% of the adult population. It is usually due to morphological changes in the airways or to other factors such as being overweight. The link between sleep apnea and heart disease is well established. New research has concluded that sleep apnea also increases the risk of hearing loss

Causes of sleep apnea

Simple roncopathy (snoring), where the cause of the phenomenon is a vibration of the anatomical structures of the palatal veil affects about 60% of the adult population with a clear prevalence in males.

OSA: Obstructive Sleep Apnea brings about sleepiness during daylight hours and awakening during sleep. It is caused by an obstacle of the upper airways, in most cases at the level of the palatal vein and tongue, but also at the level of the nasal cavities, the nasopharynx, oropharynx and hypopharynx. In addition to the morphological alterations of the upper airways, other causes include:

  • being overweight; more body fat and larger waists may increase your risk for hearing loss, according to researchers. Walking as little as two hours per week can keep you lighter and hearing your best.
  • the evening intake of alcohol, nicotine and sedatives; smokers are nearly 70% more likely than non-smokers to suffer hearing loss.
  • tonsils and adenoids in children.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

  • Sleep disorders with frequent awakenings
  • Fatigue in daylight hours
  • Headache
  • Morning hoarseness
  • Chronic hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the body's tissues) with repercussions on the cardiovascular system.

Sleep apnea treatment

Diagnosis and treatment involve a pool of specialists (ear, nose and throat doctors, pulmonologists, cardiologists). Rhinofibrolaringoscopy and polysomnography are fundamental, allowing the registration of more physiological parameters during sleep.

The first therapeutic approach is the reduction of body weight, the prohibition of alcohol and sedative intake and, in some selected cases, the CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure - a tool equipped with a mask to wear during sleep that creates a positive nasal pressure keep it going. In cases where surgical treatment is required, it differs both from the technical point of view and from that of the results, depending on whether it is a simple snoring or associated with sleep apnea.

Very often patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome have an obstruction of the upper respiratory tract at several levels that causes him a significant reduction or absence of nasal airflow during sleep, therefore surgical treatment is based essentially on three principles: shortening the palatal veil, widening the oropharynx and tensing the affected muscle and mucous appendages.

In case of surgery, it is important to remember:

  • The need for a systematic pre-operative sleep study, performed on people with snoring problems associated with sleep apnea syndrome and candidates for surgical treatment.
  • The need for an accurate morphological study that precedes any surgical treatment of sleep apnea syndrome.

The remedies do not exist only for those who suffer from sleep apnea, but also for their partners! To sleep peacefully, just use earplugs that eliminate annoying noises as much as possible without completely isolating your hearing from external sources.

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