Sleep Apnea – A Short Guide to Screening

Every night, most people have an uneasy sleep. This situation often goes unnoticed or undiagnosed, and, on this background, sleep is disturbed by snoring, which increases the risk of certain general conditions such as heart problems, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

How do you know if you suffer from this condition?

Ortho Institute has developed a short test that can help you discover potential problems. If you answer YES to any of these questions, then you may suffer from sleep apnea.

  • Do you snore loudly or regularly?
  • Have you ever been warned that you are breathing hard or that your breathing has stopped during sleep?
  • Do you feel tired or sleepy when you wake up?
  • Do you wake up with a headache?
  • Are you often tired during the day?
  • Do you fall asleep while sitting, reading, watching TV or driving?
  • Do you often have trouble concentrating or trying to remember things?

The most common type of apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. People suffering from this condition experience dangerous pauses in their breathing during sleep. These can occur dozens or even hundreds of times per night, causing you to wake up or snore very loudly. These intermittent breaths are known as apnea episodes and occur when the airways collapse, preventing the air from reaching the lungs.

This context creates a number of problems:

  • When the breath stops, the oxygen level decreases, which alarms the sympathetic nervous system, which will wake you up;
  • Adrenaline levels increase;
  • The heart rate also increases;
  • Increased blood pressure constrains and affects the blood vessels.

Despite the multitude of health risks and negative repercussions that this condition can have on one’s entire life, obstructive sleep apnea may be one of the most overlooked health problems in the world. According to the American Association for Obstructive Apnea, around 22 million Americans suffer from this problem – but an estimated 80 percent of moderate and severe cases remain undiagnosed.

Here are some of the most important clues to pay attention to in order to prevent the problem getting worse:

Family history: Your risk of developing sleep apnea is 50% higher if you have a first-degree relative, such as a parent or brother, who has sleep apnea or snoring history.

Obesity: Being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea. In fact, most sufferers are overweight. Increasing body weight can exacerbate sleep apnea, and conversely, weight loss can dramatically improve this condition. This applies to both children and adults.

Gender: Men are more likely to develop sleep apnea than women. It is not clear why, but experts believe that this is due to the differences inherited in hormonal status, upper airway anatomy, fat distribution and other factors.

Neck circumference: One of the variables often associated with sleep apnea is the size, specifically the neck circumference. Those with a circumference greater than 17 cm, especially men, are at higher risk for developing sleep apnea.

Alcohol: Numerous studies have found that alcohol use, especially in the evening or at night, is a factor that increases the chances of developing sleep apnea by 25%. Alcohol reduces the muscle tone of the upper airways, causing them to collapse even more during sleep. It can also boost the amount of food you eat, increasing your body mass index.

Anatomy: The risk of developing sleep apnea is much higher if you have certain anatomical features that can obstruct your airways during sleep. These include enlarged tonsils and / or adenoid (polyps) and small jaws.

If you experience any of the highlighted symptoms, check the issues with a sleep doctor as well as with an orthodontist specialized in respiratory problems, so that you understand exactly your situation and what you could do to keep the situation under control.

Don’t ignore sleep apnea treatment!


Dr. Ela Bănică

Orthodontics and Orthopedics Dentofacial specialist

Sleep Dentistry (Sleep Problem Dentistry) proficiency

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