The Alaska Sleep Clinic estimates that 20 million Americans live with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that causes the cessation of breathing while one sleeps. The most obvious primary symptoms of OSA are snoring and gasping for air in the middle of the night, though the condition causes several secondary symptoms that can negatively affect…
What Can Happen If Sleep Apnea Is Not Treated?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes an involuntary cessation of breathing while you are asleep. The disorder also makes you feel tired even after a full night’s rest. There are three main types of sleep apnea: central, obstructive and complex.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the disorder and occurs when your throat muscles relax when you sleep. Central sleep apnea occurs when the muscles that control breathing do not receive the proper signals from your brain, while complex sleep apnea occurs when you have both central and obstructive sleep apnea.
What happens if sleep apnea is not treated?
Sleep apnea can have serious health consequences if left untreated. Some of the complications associated with sleep apnea include:
High blood pressure
There is a drop in blood oxygen levels in people who suffer from sleep apnea, because the disorder causes an increase in blood pressure, which strains the cardiovascular system. Having obstructive sleep apnea puts you at risk of hypertension and heart disease.
Sleep apnea also puts you at risk of developing resistance to insulin, which increases your chances of having type 2 diabetes.
If you suffer from sleep apnea and have not been treated, you are likely to have scarring of the liver, which can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a result of too much fat in the liver.
Suffering from obstructive sleep apnea is a concern when it comes to taking certain medications and general anesthesia. People with the disorder are likely to have complications after undergoing surgery, because they have breathing problems, especially when they lie down on their backs.
If you are scheduled to undergo major surgery, make sure your doctor knows that you suffer from sleep apnea, as well as the medication you are taking to treat the disorder.
Having sleep apnea makes it difficult to get a good night’s rest because the disorder causes repeated awakening while you are sleeping. Due to the lack of a good night’s rest, people dealing with sleep apnea are usually fatigued during the day and in some cases, very irritable. People with sleep apnea are also more likely to fall asleep while driving and experience workplace accidents.
Sleep apnea treatment options
Sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on how mild or severe your condition is. For milder cases, your physician will recommend making lifestyle changes like exercise or a change in diet.
If your case is moderate to severe, your physician will recommend therapeutic options like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers air pressure through a mask while you sleep. If neither option works, your physician will recommend surgery to fix the problem.
Sleep apnea makes it difficult to get a good night’s rest, and if the disorder is left untreated, it can lead to more serious health problems. If you are dealing with sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get treatment.
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