Other Serious Health Problems That Can Arise If Sleep Apnea Is Left Untreated
Do you find yourself having trouble sleeping at night? Do you wake up often and have trouble getting back to sleep? Does your partner complain that you keep them awake at night with your snoring? If any of these scenarios sounds familiar, you may have a chronic respiratory condition called obstructive sleep apnea. During sleep apnea attacks, your throat collapses and blocks oxygen to your upper airway, depriving your brain and lungs.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
Snoring is one of the first and most common symptoms of sleep apnea, but there are several others you may not immediately recognize. If you’re already aware that you snore, consider these other symptoms:
- Low quality of sleep (trouble falling asleep or waking up often)
- Low energy levels
- Inability to concentrate
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Headaches or a sore throat in the morning
If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, we urge you to come in for a consultation. At Palmieri Dentistry, Dr. Palmieri can identify signs of sleep apnea and recommend a comprehensive course of action.
Health problems from sleep apnea
Leaving sleep apnea untreated can be incredibly dangerous because it can lead to a number of serious health problems.
High blood pressure
Waking up often during the night stresses your body and creates a spike in hormone production, which then causes a spike in blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, untreated sleep apnea can make it much worse. Additionally, breathing problems cause the level of oxygen in your blood to drop, which can further exacerbate the problems, creating a cycle.
Even if you have pre-existing blood pressure problems, you may find that treating your sleep apnea can improve your blood pressure as well.
Sleep apnea sufferers are more likely to have heart attacks. This is partially because sleep apnea and heart disease have similar underlying causes and risk factors. In addition, the lack of sufficient oxygen to your heart and the added stress of losing sleep can cause strokes, palpitations, and heart attacks.
Another vicious cycle is weight gain. Carrying around extra weight, especially when you are considered obese, can raise your risk for several health problems on this list, including sleep apnea itself. Conversely, having sleep apnea makes it more difficult to lose the weight you have gained.
Type 2 diabetes
Sleep apnea is incredibly common among people with Type 2 diabetes. Researchers are still trying to determine the exact link between the two diseases, but a common theory is that an overly fatigued body doesn’t properly use insulin, leading to diabetes.
It may seem surprising, but patients with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely to have a car accident than normal sleepers. Fatigue and exhaustion are factors because sufferers are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and have slower reaction times.
Possible causes of sleep apnea
There is no one specific cause of sleep apnea, and not everyone with the usual underlying conditions develops sleep apnea. But there are multiple factors that can increase your risk of developing it:
- Being overweight or obese (especially in the neck and upper belly)
- Having a deviated septum
- Being a man
- Being a menopausal woman
- Being over the age of 40
- Having a large neck, tongue, or tonsils
- Having acid reflux
- Having sinus or other respiratory restrictions
Even if you haven’t yet developed sleep apnea, we strongly recommend being observant about your sleep patterns if you have one or more of these typical underlying conditions. Doing your best to prevent sleep apnea and recognizing the symptoms will save you a lot of pain later on.
Don’t let your sleep apnea affect other areas of your life. Book your appointment online today or call us. Let us help you sleep better and live better.