Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea (Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome – OSAS)



Snoring (or snoring) results from a sound caused by the vibration of the palate and pharyngeal walls. Snoring is not only a marital nuisance, but may also be the initial phase of “Sleep Apnea Syndrome” (OSAS). Most people with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) have pharyngeal changes, with obstruction of the airway at any level between the nasal cavities and the epiglottis. Waking up tired, drowsiness during the day, decreased libido and a higher incidence of cardiovascular problems, are situations often associated with this clinical picture. Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) consists of cessation of breathing during sleep for more than 10 seconds and more than 5 times per hour due to collapse of the upper airway. The person stops breathing for several seconds or even more than a minute !!


The direct consequence of Sleep Apnea is the change in the quality of sleep, where there is an inability to reach the deep phases, which are the restorative phases, which allow physical and mental rest. The patient does not feel restored in the morning as a normal person. You may experience drowsiness during the day, whether at work, driving or doing other simple day-to-day activities. You may also have headaches, irritability, and mood swings. In the most serious situations there may be intellectual deterioration, attention, memory and sexual impotence. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a disorder that causes shortness of breath or very shallow breathing during sleep, resulting in snoring and a restless rest that does not allow the recovery of energy.


In addition to daytime drowsiness, this disease can lead to: – difficulty concentrating, – cardiac arrhythmias, – depression, – Headache, – hormonal changes, irritability – type 2 diabetes – sexual impotence. If not breathing, do not enter oxygen. The organs (heart, kidneys, liver, brain, etc.) need oxygen for proper functioning and are deprived of it. How is sleep apnea diagnosed? When OSAS is suspected, a “Polysomnographic Sleep Study” should be performed, which examines several parameters during sleep, allowing confirmation of the diagnosis.


Through the Polysomnographic Study of the nocturnal Sleep, made in the patient’s home, in his own bed, we can measure:

1 – nasal flow (measures the stops of breathing)

2 – various body positions while sleeping

3 – heart rate during sleep (bradycardia and tachycardias)

4 – amount of snoring5 – oxygen saturation in the blood


How is sleep apnea treated? 

There are currently some treatment options for these conditions, and the first attempt should be made to correct risk factors such as obesity, alcohol intake at night, smoking, gastro-oesophageal reflux, taking certain medications and the position of dorsal decubitus (sleeping belly up). The medical treatment in cases of medium severity consists of the use of “Gutters for Sleep Apnea”. In severe cases it is necessary to use an overnight device that increases pressure in the upper airways, thereby preventing apneas (CPAP). This treatment has the advantage of being effective in almost all patients, but as a disadvantage it can be troublesome and have to be used permanently. Surgical treatments for Sleep Apnea are diverse and should be adapted to the changes found in the patient, such as nasal, pharyngeal, palate, tongue and craniofacial anomalies. Sometimes there are recurrences after surgery. Snoring can be extremely uncomfortable and OSAS a condition with serious repercussions on the health of the individual. Many illnesses begin with Sleep Apnea. Unfortunately there are many cases to be diagnosed. It is a pathology that is only recently recognized in Portugal, unlike most developed countries where it is well known and treated. The Oral Health Clinic of Loulé is able to diagnose and treat this health problem.