How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Health
Getting a good night’s rest may be one of the last things you think about when considering your health. However, the quality of sleep you get is critical to your overall well-being. If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, both your sleep and health are at risk. Sleep apnea is a sleep condition that interrupts your breathing repeatedly during sleep, causing your body to wake you up and catch your breath. While you may never notice these interruptions, they disrupt your sleep cycle, keep you from getting quality rest, and contribute to many long-term health concerns.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
There are three different types of sleep apnea a patient can be diagnosed with: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), and Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA). When it comes to sleep apnea, it’s critical to recognize the warning signs. The symptoms of these disorders can be seen both physically and psychologically but can vary from patient to patient. Understanding the causes and signs of sleep apnea is crucial for avoiding health complications later in life.
The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring or gasping for air during sleep
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Morning headaches
- Fatigue during the day
- Memory or concentration problems
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Irritability or moodiness
- Lack of motivation and energy
Risk Factors and Dangers of Sleep Apnea
While anyone at any age can develop sleep apnea, certain groups are at an increased risk. More males than females are diagnosed with apnea-related disorders, and symptoms are more likely to appear later in life. Overweight patients are also at higher risk due to a larger neck circumference.
Smokers and patients who drink alcohol excessively, have nasal congestion, or have a family history of the condition are also more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. If you snore loudly and fall into one of these higher-risk groups, it’s important to talk to Dr. Stern about your symptoms.
The Importance of Quality Sleep
Quality sleep plays a vital role in the way your body functions. Without it, your brain is unable to properly regulate hormones and efficiently file your memories from the day. Sleep apnea can also lead to weight gain, which can increase the severity of the disorder.
Untreated sleep apnea has been associated with:
- Cognitive dysfunction – Chronic disruptions in sleep deprive the mind and body of an essential resting phase. Sleep apnea can lead to problems such as excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and brain fog. It’s been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) – In addition to minor spikes in blood pressure during apneic events, the condition can worsen existing hypertension. Sleep apnea treatment may lower blood pressure in some patients.
- Stroke and heart disease – Obstructive sleep apnea patients are more likely to suffer heart attacks. The condition has also been linked to an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), stroke, and similar health problems.
- Diabetes – There is a strong connection between sleep apnea and diabetes, though a cause-and-effect link has not yet been established. Four out of five adults with type 2 diabetes also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
- Obesity – There seems to be a two-way link between obesity and sleep apnea. Overweight individuals have a higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea, due to fat accumulation in the neck area. People with untreated sleep apnea have greater difficulty losing weight, thus creating a feedback loop.
- Asthma – A link between sleep apnea and asthma has been suggested, but not scientifically confirmed. However, many asthmatic patients have self-reported fewer attacks after beginning sleep apnea treatment.
Luckily, if you feel you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, Dr. Stern offers effective treatment plans to get your sleep apnea under control. Our solutions work to keep your airway open, helping you breathe easy through the night and promoting the quality sleep you need.
Frequently Asked Questions
The different types of sleep apnea have unique causes:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Occurs due to an obstruction of the airway. The muscles in the back of your throat relax, causing a blockage. This stops the flow of oxygen from reaching your lungs, causing your brain to suddenly wake you up to resume breathing.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): This occurs when your brain doesn’t reliably signal your body to breathe properly, resulting in pauses in breathing for short periods of time.
Age, sex, body weight, lifestyle choices, and genetics all can play a part in your risk of developing sleep apnea, but sleep apnea can affect patients from all backgrounds.
In general, sleep apnea is a chronic condition and can only be managed. This is especially true with patients afflicted with OSA.
The treatments we offer at Snoring & CPAP Solutions help alleviate your symptoms, improve your health, and help enhance the overall quality of your sleep.