)Sleep apnea can cause numerous health complications down the line, which – if untreated – could potentially be life-threatening. We’re all aware of sleep apnea’s most common symptom, snoring, but health complications like heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity can all be caused by the disorder. It can even make you a more dangerous driver on the road.
Before we jump into the five potential health complications of sleep apnea, let’s clarify the issue:
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes breathing to stop and start during sleep continually.
Sleep apnea refers to a range of disorders, but the most common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea when your throat muscles repeatedly relax and block airways during sleep. When the soft tissues in your throat, such as your tongue and soft palate, temporarily relax, your airway is narrowed or closed, and breathing is momentarily cut off.
Sleep Apnea Health Complications
High Blood Pressure
If you already have high blood pressure, sleep apnea is likely to make it worse. When you consistently wake up during the middle of the night, your body’s hormone systems become stressed. They go into overdrive which in turn boosts your blood pressure.
Treatment will make a difference though. Many patients with high blood pressure have seen their levels improve after seeking treatment for their sleep apnea, which will lead to a decrease in medical costs. Added Bonus!
Type 2 Diabetes
According to WebMD, studies haven’t shown a cause-and-effect link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. But, not getting enough shut-eye can keep your body from using insulin properly, which leads to diabetes.
Simply put, if you want your body to get the right amount of insulin, seek treatment for your sleep apnea.
If you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, you are far more likely to suffer from heart disease. Sleep apnea makes it harder for your body to intake enough oxygen. That, in turn, makes it more difficult for the brain to control blood flow to and from the heart.
Harvard researchers estimate that untreated sleep apnea may raise the risk of dying from heart disease by up to five times.
Being overweight means you’re more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Once you have the disorder, it also makes it harder for you to shed the pounds. Sleep apnea can cause your body to release more of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you crave carbs and sweets.
The good news is, treatment for sleep apnea will give you more energy which in turn will increase your motivation and ability to lose weight!
According to WebMD, people with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely than normal sleepers to have traffic accidents.
Tragically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.
Check If You Have Sleep Apnea
Check if you have sleep apnea while you sleep, has your partner noticed you:
- Making gasping, snorting, or choking noises,
- Waking up a lot,
- Snoring loudly,
- Breathing unevenly (stopping and starting)?
During the day, you may also
- Feel very tired
- Find it hard to concentrate
- Have mood swings
- Have a headache when you wake up
Sleep apnea can be severe if it’s not diagnosed and treated. Consult your doctor if you have any of the main symptoms:
- Your breathing stops and starts while you sleep
- You make gasping, snorting, or choking noises while you sleep
- You always feel very tired during the day
Getting Treated For Sleep Apnea
If your doctor thinks you might have sleep apnea, they may refer you to a specialist sleep clinic for tests.
At the clinic, you may be given devices that check things like your breathing and heartbeat while you sleep. You’ll be asked to wear these overnight so doctors can check for signs of sleep apnea. You can usually do this at home, but sometimes you may need to stay in the clinic overnight.
When you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, you will almost always be prescribed PAP therapy. There are several types of PAP machines, depending on the settings your doctor has prescribed.
How Advanced Homecare Can Help You
Since opening as a small team of three back in 2005, our mission at Advanced Homecare Online has been to provide the very best sleep apnea treatments for our patients.
We specialize in one-on-one relationships. Our office team members and Patient Care Instructors are committed to educating their patients about their condition and understanding each patient’s specific needs.
We’re proud of what we do. Learn how we can help treat your Sleep Apnea now