Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to detect when something is wrong with a patient. A good example, in this case, is the fact that dentists are far better sleep apnea diagnosticians than specialized doctors. This is possible because dentists are far more used to seeing the tongue and the uvula of a patient than a clinic physician or a cardiologist.
Usually, sleep apnea is diagnosed with a special questionnaire called the Berlin Questionnaire. The answers of the patients are then compared with the size of their tonsils, indentations on their tongue and their score on the Epworth Scale of Sleepiness (a questionnaire created by scientists meant to measure the amount of daytime sleepiness).
But all of these tests are given to a patient if the doctor has a hunch that he or she might be suffering from sleep apnea or if a significant other observes the symptoms during the patient’s slumber. Luckily for the affected, dentists are so accustomed to seeing tongues and tonsils that they spot any irregularity from a mile away.
According to the latest study conducted by Thikriat Al-Jewair, orthodontic researcher at Buffalo University, dentists are far better sleep apnea diagnosticians than specialized doctors. The main reason for this is the fact that the two single visible signs of the illness are enlarged tonsils and indentations on the tongue caused by teeth pressure.
In order to tests his theory, Dr. Al-Jewair studied 200 patients at a Saudi Arabia dental clinic. The doctors gave the patients the Berlin Questionnaire, and then checked their blood pressure levels and any irregularities in the tonsils, uvula and tongue.
From the 200 patients that the dentists suspected of suffering from sleep apnea, 23 percent were actually affected by the syndrome. Almost 80 percent out of the confirmed 23 were overweight males.
Other signs of sleep apnea are irritability, crankiness, and sleepiness. All of them are caused by the fact that a person that suffers from the syndrome cannot properly rest at night. The patient doesn’t even realize that his or her sleep is interrupted or has poor quality.
But sleep apnea doesn’t only cause irritability and sleepiness. When left untreated, the illness can trigger other, more complicated diseases such as diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disorders, and depression. Also, patients that suffer from sleep apnea are more prone to having a stroke.
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