Dr Jacques Lebahar

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Sleep Apnea

Understanding Sleep Apnea: Symptoms and Prevalence

Sleep apnea, or obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (OSAS), is manifested by recurrent obstructions of the airways during sleep. These interruptions, called “apneas” and “hypopneas,” result in breathing pauses that can last 10 to 30 seconds, occurring up to a hundred times per night.

The prevalence of this syndrome varies according to its severity, measured by the apnea-hypopnea index. Mainly observed in individuals aged 40 to 70, sleep apnea can also affect younger people, including children. In France, around 600,000 people are undergoing treatment for this syndrome, affecting around 4% of men and 2% of women over 50.

Consulting a healthcare professional is essential if you suspect you may be affected by this sleep disorder. An appropriate assessment will allow adequate treatment.

To learn more about the symptoms and treatments of sleep apnea, do not hesitate to consult our dedicated resources.

Symptoms identified but a pathology still underdiagnosed

“Three quarters of patients affected by sleep apnea are unaware of it”, specifies Doctor Jean-Baptiste Kerbrat, member of the French Federation of Orthodontics (FFO), “sleep apnea can be asymptomatic and the subject concerned unaware that he is suffering from it; the observation of the spouse who notices the respiratory interruptions is decisive in this case. But in the majority of cases, sleep apnea manifests itself through a cluster of symptoms: during the sleep phase, the subject presents repeated micro-arousals caused by the brain lacking oxygen and noisy resumptions of breathing, associated or not with episodes of choking, heavy breathing or snoring and heart rhythm disturbances. Symptoms which vary in intensity and can be caused by a number of other better-known pathologies… So much so that they are only associated with a suspicion of sleep apnea quite late by doctors.”

Observation of these symptoms may justify referring the patient to a structure specialized in the diagnosis of sleep disorders which will technically evaluate the suspicion of sleep apnea and define, if necessary, the treatment.

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