The Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea

December 12, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — gotosleep @ 6:57 pm

Sleep apnea is more than just a condition that makes you snore loudly or wake up tired. Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause severe medical problems and even death. It is a severe medical disorder and should be treated with the help of experts.

More Than Just Beauty Sleep

On average, we spend about one-third of our lives asleep. It’s when our body rejuvenates, heals, and when our brain processes everything we’ve done during the day. When we are asleep, our body recovers from the stressors or daily life. When you have sleep apnea, your breathing is interrupted, and you wake gasping for breath. When this happens, it can take up to an hour before your brain reaches the restful cycles of deep sleep and REM sleep. Each time you wake up, this cycle starts all over again. So, if you have a night where you wake up a few times, there’s a chance your body and brain won’t reach the deep sleep cycle and REM sleep. You might have slept for a few hours, but it wasn’t restorative.

Hidden Danger

This consistent lack of restorative sleep can lead to or worsen the symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, and traffic accidents related to drowsy driving, and sudden cardiac death. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your risk of a heart attack is 23 times greater than that of someone without the disorder. Ninety-two percent of stroke victims unknowingly live with sleep apnea before having a stroke. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute did a study which followed 10,701 patients over a 5.3-year period. In that span, 142 people died of sudden cardiac death. The three factors all 142 patients had was that they were 60 years old or older, had 20 or more apneic episodes per hour, and a blood oxygen level below 78 percent during sleep. The study concluded that your risk of sudden cardiac death doubles if you have untreated sleep apnea.

Treatment Options

The good news is, sleep apnea is treatable. There are many treatment options for sleep apnea including devices with masks that open your airways like CPAPs and BiPAPs, nighttime appliances, lifestyle changes such as losing excess weight, quitting smoking, changing your sleep position, and not drinking alcohol close to bedtime. Dentistry can also serve a vital role in treating this silent epidemic. Once your sleep specialists have diagnosed you with sleep apnea, your dentist may be able to make an appliance you wear at night to help position your jaw in a forward position and help you explore other options that work for you. Some symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime sleepiness, headaches, excessive snoring, waking up tired and not feeling refreshed, and waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, take our sleep survey to learn more. Read what what Johns Hopkins medical says about the dangers of untreated sleep apnea.

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