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Your understanding of sleep apnea can make a huge difference in your quality of life. While this medical condition is actually common, its effects are still underestimated. Today, we are taking a closer look at how sleep apnea can wreak havoc on your life.

Sleep apnea arises when a person experiences interruptions in their breathing during sleep, which makes them briefly awaken throughout what is supposed to be a good night’s sleep.These sleep disturbances not only disrupt the quality of one’s sleep but can also have significant implications on overall health and wellbeing.

Making Sense of Sleep Apnea

There are essentially two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. OSA is the more prevalent form and is caused by a blockage of the airway, typically when the soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse and close during sleep. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is less common and arises as the brain declines to emit the right signals to the muscles whose job is to control breathing.

What Happens When Sleep Apnea Goes Untreated?

  • Daytime Fatigue and Impaired Cognitive Function: Sleep apnea disrupts the normal sleep cycle, leaving one feeling fatigued and sleepy during the day. Chronic sleep deprivation can unfortunately lead to impaired concentration, memory problems and reduced cognitive function.
  • Cardiovascular Complications: The recurring pauses in breathing during one’s sleep cycle causes significant stress on the cardiovascular system. Studies have linked sleep apnea to an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke and irregular heartbeats.
  • Metabolic and Endocrine Disruptions: Sleep apnea has been correlated with insulin resistance and an increased risk of incurring type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it can lead to hormonal imbalances, affecting one’s appetite regulation and potentially leading to weight gain.
  • Mental Health Issues: The serious impact of sleep apnea extends beyond physical health. It can also take a toll on mental wellbeing, contributing to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
  • Increased Accident Risk: Daytime sleepiness resulting from sleep apnea can impair one’s ability to focus and react quickly, increasing the likelihood of accidents while driving or operating machinery.

Identifying the Risk Factors

Several aspects can raise the potential for developing sleep apnea:

  • Obesity: Excess weight can lead to the accumulation of fat around the upper airway, increasing the risk of obstruction.
  • Age and Gender: Sleep apnea is greater in older adults and men in particular, though it can affect individuals of all ages and genders.
  • Family History: A family history of sleep apnea often increases the likelihood of developing this disorder.
  • Smoking and Alcohol Consumption: Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to airway inflammation and relaxation, making sleep apnea more likely.

Treatment Options

The good news is sleep apnea is treatable, and early intervention can prevent the development of more severe health issues. Potential treatment options:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): This effective therapy entails wearing a mask during sleep delivering continuous flow of air to keep one’s airway open.
  • Oral Appliances: Some may benefit from using oral devices that help keep the airway open by repositioning the jaw.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Weight loss, abstaining from alcohol and smoking, and developing healthy sleep habits can vastly improve one’s sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgical interventions to remove obstructions may help.

Seeking professional help for sleep apnea symptoms can make all the difference in getting the sleep one needs for healthier living. Remember, good sleep is the foundation of good health, so don’t hesitate to address any sleep-related concerns with our sleep apnea team!