As it turns out sleep apnea is more detrimental to health than one would expect. Beyond losing some precious hours of shuteye and waking up tired, this condition may also increase your risk for developing other long-term and short-term health problems especially when left untreated. Sleep apnea is also known to make some pre-existing illnesses worse.
Even more alarming is the fact that out of the approximately 18 million Americans with sleep apnea, only 20 percent have been diagnosed and treated. This is why dentists urge their patients to look into several treatment options available, including intraoral appliances, or expose themselves to these dangers.
High Blood Pressure
If you already have high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea may cause it to worsen. Frequently waking up during the night stresses the body and causes hormonal systems to go into overdrive. As a result, your blood pressure levels also increase. Meanwhile, during your sleep, the low blood-oxygen caused by the cutoff of oxygen can also contribute to hypertension.
Low oxygen and the stress of not getting enough sleep can also make you more prone to heart attacks, stroke, and atrial fibrillation (a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat). The disruption in oxygen flow makes it hard for your brain to regulate the blood in your arteries and the brain as well. Worse still, people with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and die in their sleep.
Type 2 Diabetes
Although studies have yet to show a direct link between diabetes and sleep apnea, there is enough compelling evidence to suggest that the two are somehow related. According to research, more than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have obstructive sleep apnea. Not getting the recommended hours of sleep each night may be keeping the body from properly using insulin. Insulin resistance, as any physician may tell you, is a known precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Excessive Weight Gain
Obesity and being overweight are main risk factors for sleep apnea. In fact, it is said that half of overweight people have the condition because extra weight that collects around the neck obstructs normal breathing. Losing weight is likely to help eliminate the symptoms related to sleep apnea, but this condition might make dropping excess pounds and keeping them off for good just a little bit harder.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as GERD, is also quite common in people who have sleep apnea because of how their throat closes during sleep. While air moves in and out of the throat, the disordered movement of the throat causes pressure changes in the stomach. This, in turn, sucks the contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus and produces a painful sensation on the chest and throat.
Mental Health Issues
Sleep deprivation brought on by apnea can have some negative effects on your mental wellbeing as well. From a case of daytime sleepiness or crankiness, you could eventually have mild depression or anxiety symptoms. This is what a recent study involving 74 snorers revealed, establishing the link between sleep apnea and depression.
If you’re getting complaints from your family about loud snoring or already suspect that you have sleep apnea, the best thing you can do is to get diagnosed. Your doctor may then recommend you to a reputable dental clinic, such as Finger Lakes Family Dental, that can get you started on sleep apnea therapy. A qualified dentist serving Bath, NY and nearby areas can design an intraoral appliance for you to keep your throat and jaw in the right position while you sleep.