What Are The Risks Of Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing or have shallow breaths during sleep. You may also experience snoring, gasping for air, and loud, raspy noises while asleep. This can be dangerous because it prevents your brain from getting enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly during the night.
Sleep apnea can be diagnosed with an overnight sleep study called polysomnography (PSG). During this test, sensors are placed around the body to record brain activity while sleeping; our dentist in Wall Township analyzes that data to see if there were any problems with how much oxygen reached their brains at night.
- High blood pressure.
Sleep apnea can negatively affect your health, like an increased risk of high blood pressure. When you suffer from sleep apnea, your breathing stops and repeatedly starts during the night. This causes your body to become deprived of oxygen, which can increase blood pressure. In addition, the lack of restful sleep caused by sleep apnea can cause stress hormones to be released into the bloodstream, further contributing to high blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to seek treatment for sleep apnea if you are at risk for high blood pressure.
- Stroke or heart attack
If you have untreated OSA, you are at an increased risk for stroke or heart attack. People with severe obstructive sleep apnea tend to develop coronary artery disease (CAD), where plaque builds up in their arteries and narrows them. This affects blood flow and causes heart attacks later in life when the plaque has built up enough that the heart muscle becomes damaged by plaques on its own or when there’s inadequate oxygen supply due to constriction caused by narrowing arteries.
- Irregular heartbeat.
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes irregular heartbeats. When you have sleep apnea, your breathing is interrupted during sleep. This can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease. If you notice an irregular heartbeat, visit an emergency dentist near you.
- Heart failure.
Sleep Apnea can lead to several life-threatening complications, including irregular heart failure. It is caused by the interruption of regular breathing during sleep, which can cause a decrease in oxygen levels in the body and increase stress hormones. This can predispose you to heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
OSA can also increase the risk of insulin resistance, making it difficult for cells to use insulin properly. Diabetes can also lead to problems like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
It’s important to note that sleep apnea doesn’t cause diabetes per se. However, it can predispose you, especially if you already have pre-existing risks like obesity or high cholesterol (both factors in developing insulin resistance).
Sleep apnea can have a major impact on mental health. People with sleep apnea suffer from interrupted breathing during sleep, which can cause fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. This can lead to depression if left untreated. Several studies suggest that people with sleep apnea are more predisposed to depression and anxiety than those without the disorder. In addition, the lack of quality sleep caused by sleep apnea can lead to decreased energy levels and an inability to focus or concentrate, which can further contribute to feelings of depression.
- Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
Daytime fatigue and sleepiness are common symptoms of untreated OSA. You might also experience these issues in the morning, before getting up, or trying to fall asleep at night. Your dentist near you will likely ask you questions about how much daytime sleepiness affects your life, what activities cause it to improve or worsen, and whether there’s anything else in your life that could be causing it.
A CPAP machine is often recommended for the treatment of sleep apnea. Other treatments that can be used include mouth devices, medication, lifestyle conditions, and surgery if needed.
Schedule an Appointment
Visit Susan J. Curley DDS for more information about OSA prevention and treatment options.