Dangers of Sleep Apnea
While sleeping, there is so much going on internally that could have a positive or negative effect on your health. Whether you are a snorer or sleep with someone who is, there are many complications that could arise. For the bedmate that is forced to deal with a snoring spouse, you can experience loss of sleep and the bitterness and anger that comes with it. For the person that snores, there are a lot more problems that you can deal with other than just an angry partner. There are many dangers that can occur because of snoring including sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is considered to be a sleeping disorder that is distinguished by pauses in breath when sleeping. It can also be characterized by low amounts of breathing during the night. The actual pause in breathing is what is known as apnea. The apnea can occur in your sleep for as short as 10 seconds and as long as a few minutes. It can even occur up to as many as 30 times per hour. When you are low breathing, it isn’t considered apnea, it is called hypopnea. The only way to properly diagnose sleep apnea is to undergo an overnight sleep study called polysomnogram.
Not all sleep apneas are considered the same. There are three different forms that can affect you: central, obstructive, and complex.
Central sleep apnea is when the brain’s respiratory control center is imbalanced. In the brain, there is a neurological feedback mechanism that monitors the blood levels and carbon dioxide. When this mechanism doesn’t work properly, it leads to your body failing to maintain a consistent respiratory rate.
Obstructive sleep apnea can occur for different reasons. It is the most common type of sleep apnea experienced around the world and occurs when the airway or nasal passage. Among the reasons why this can occur would be the position you sleep, the alcohol you consume, or even if you had a cold.
Mixed sleep apnea occurs when someone experiences symptoms of central and obstructive sleep apnea. When someone has obstructive sleep apnea for a long period of time without treatment, it can lead to central apnea.
What Dangers do You Face?
There are many dangerous health problems that can occur to those with obstructive sleep apnea if left untreated. Many of them require medication of their own, but can be avoided by treating sleep apnea.
- High Blood Pressure: This can occur in frequent sleep apnea patients because of the constant work that your body is being forced to do. Hormone systems work harder during sleep apnea which is a major factor in why your blood pressure will rise at night. The cutting off of oxygen in the body can also lead to hypertension in some patients.
- Type 2 Diabetes: As many as 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have reported some form of sleep apnea. A common factor between both problems in a person is being overweight or obese. The two problems haven’t been completely linked together, but studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance within your body, which is a cause of diabetes.
- Weight Gain: The more weight you gain, the higher your chances of snoring and developing sleep apnea. Some studies have found that as many as 67 percent of those who suffer from sleep apnea are overweight. In some cases, losing weight has helped, but isn’t a guarantee. If the weight you gain is around your neck, the added weight can increase pressure on your airways and lead to snoring. These extra fatty deposits can make sleeping a big issue. When you suffer from sleep apnea, the endocrine system in your body is fazed and causes the release of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you want carbs and sweets.
- Heart Disease: Suffering heart attacks and the chance of death are possible for those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. These health risks can occur because of the stress of being awakened or because of the low oxygen level. Other possible heart problems that have been linked to sleep apnea are stroke and atrial fibrillation.
- GERD: Otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD is a problem that has been known to get better over time after treatment for sleep apnea. There is no link between the two, but those reported health improvements can’t be ignored.
- Car Accidents: Sleep apnea affects your ability to get a good night’s sleep. That lack of quality sleep leads to being tired during the day and in turn, can result in a higher likelihood of getting into a traffic accident. In fact, you face are five times likelier to have a traffic incident than those who sleep normally.
- Adult Asthma: There has been no scientific link found between the development of adult asthma and sleep apnea, but those who have been treated for their sleep issues have reported fewer asthma problems.
How Can You Treat Sleep Apnea?
If you want to make sure none of the above health problems happen to you, there are ways to treat your sleep apnea.
- Medication: There are several oral medications that can be prescribed to help cure your sleep apnea. The best medications will lower your blood pH levels which also encourages respiration.
- Oral Appliance: This is a custom-made mouthpiece works to shift your lower jar forward while also opening your bite. It is a newer treatment that keeps your mouth open and allows air to flow without obstruction.
- CPAP: Also known as a continuous positive airway pressure, this machine can be attained only by the orders of your doctor. This machine features a flexible tube that connects to your mouth. This keeps airflow in your body and prevents snoring and helps to prevent any instances of sleep apnea.
- Surgery: There are several different surgeries that can be used to treat the problem. This could be surgery to clear out any blockages in the sinus or in the mouth and throat. Each surgery is done differently according to your problems.