Adult Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) is a disorder, in which breathing stops once or more or it slows down excessively during sleep.

Breaks can last a few seconds or minutes.

Breathing often starts again, with a loud snoring.

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Sleep apnoea is usually a chronic (constant) disease that interferes with sleep and the patient often switches from a deep-sleep to a light-sleep state when breathing stops or slows down. Sleep quality loses effectiveness, and this is the reason of tiredness during the day. Sleep apnoea is one of the most frequent causes of the excessive daytime sleepiness.

In most cases this disorder is not diagnosed, and family doctors are not able to identify it very often during medical examinations; at the moment, there are no blood tests to diagnose it. Most patients that suffer from sleep apnoea does not know it because this disease occurs during sleep. Relatives usually notice the symptoms first.

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Child Sleep Apnoea

Child health can be damaged by sleep apnoea. 2 % of children suffers from sleep apnoea, risking serious complications. Parents usually tend to underestimate many symptoms, but they do not notice these ones can contribute to cause many serious diseases.

Here there are some early signs: a child with sleeping disorders is very irritable and he might suffer from sleep apnoea.

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Furthermore, 5 % of children at pre-school age already snores due to this problem. Therefore, verify if your child snores because of a wrong sleeping position, a cold, or because of a more serious reason. For example, if your child stops breathing temporarily during sleep, report it to his paediatrician. It is usually an obstructive apnoea in which breathing slows down or it stops because of a collapse or an obstruction of the respiratory tract. This kind of apnoea specially occurs in children with inflamed tonsils.       

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Sleep Apnoea and driving license

The driving license must not be issued or renewed to candidates or drivers suffering from sleep disorders caused by obstructive nocturnal apneas that cause severe and incoercible daytime sleepiness, with accentuated reduction of attention capacities not adequately controlled with prescribed treatments.
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Sleep Apnoea: the new driving license rules

So how to get the license issued or renewed if you suffer from sleep apnoea?

According to the law, those suffering from moderate or severe sleep apnea will be able to obtain or renew their driving license only if specific conditions are met, as sleep apnea "causes severe and incoercible daytime sleepiness", which increases the risk of incurring road accidents. .

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Sleep Apnoea: therapies

Sleep apnea can be treated:

  • changing the lifestyle;
  • with orthodontic appliances;
  • with breathing devices;
  • with surgery.

Medicines are usually not used.

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The “forecaster” role of the Dentist

A high percentage of population goes to the dentist at least annually for medical examinations, oral hygiene or therapies.

For this reason, dentists can identify symptoms of sleep apnoea in advance.

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At the same time, they can evaluate if patient needs a treatment with a specific oral equipment.

It is very important for the dentist to know and share different therapeutic approaches for apnoea, as the therapy, the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and the surgical treatment for oropharyngeal tissues or to reposition the maxillary bones. The dentist might choose to apply an intraoral retainer if necessary, when the diagnosis is complete.

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