Can You Diagnose Sleep Apnea Just By Looking?
As a Los Angeles ENT, I see many patients who have waited years to visit a specialist for breathing issues. I have learned to listen to patient histories very carefully, noting any moments or details with diagnostic significance.
But until recently, I didn’t immediately look at their posture.
One interesting finding recently published described the “oral rest posture” of children, suggesting that this simple evaluation can be a good indicator of future difficulties, and a harbinger of obstructive sleep apnea down the line:
As the mouth continues to hang open and the tongue rests low and forward in the mouth, the mandible will open beyond the normal freeway space, increasing the vertical dimension. . . . The characteristic appearance of these individuals includes not only a long, narrow face, but often a short upper lip, recessed chin, high and narrow maxilla and forward head posture. This facial appearance at any age is a red flag to which we need to pay attention. The majority of these cases began with airway issues in early childhood. Long before they grew into adults with snoring and sleep apnea, they were the children who suffered from chronic nasal allergies or sinusitis, or whose tonsils and adenoids were chronically enlarged during the years when their teeth and faces were developing.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a hugely common problem, and one which continues to bedevil GP’s looking for one root cause when there may be several. Slackness, enlarged adenoids, obesity, deviated septum, and other problems may all contribute to snoring and interrupted breathing at night, which is why it is essential to visit an ENT in Los Angeles for a full evaluation.