The Dangers of Not Controlling Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when upper airway muscles relax during sleep and pinch off the airway, which prevents you from getting enough air. Your breathing may pause for 10 seconds or more, until your reflexes kick in and your breathing starts again.

In general, sleep apnea affects more men than women, and also affects more women after menopause. Sleep apnea is linked to heart disease and metabolic issues such as diabetes.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

There are two types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when air cannot flow into or out of the nose or mouth, even though your body is trying to breathe. Central sleep apnea is when the brain fails to send the right signals to your muscles so you start breathing.

Your partner is most likely to first notice your signs of sleep apnea, because while you’re asleep, you will make snoring sounds when you aren’t breathing. These sounds are typically much louder than regular snoring and are very noticeable.

People with sleep apnea might also suffer from unexplained fatigue and mood swings, because their breathing interruptions continually wake them and prevent them from settling into a deep, nourishing sleep.

The dangers of not controlling sleep apnea

Several studies have shown an association between sleep apnea and problems like type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and an overall shortened lifespan. In many cases, obesity is the main factor behind sleep apnea, and the problem will not go away unless the patient loses weight.

No matter the source of sleep apnea, it is vital not to leave this disease uncontrolled. Living with sleep apnea for an extended period of time can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, and diabetes. It also has very negative effects on the brain and overall cognitive function. Many people who leave sleep apnea untreated suffer from extreme memory loss, as their brains just cannot function normally anymore.

Using a CPAP

Studies show that regularly using a CPAP during sleep will reduce blood pressure and improve cognitive abilities during the day. The CPAP is one of the most popular sleep apnea treatments.

If you or your partner has noticed signs of sleep apnea, visit your doctor right away to avoid the dangers of not controlling sleep apnea. A sleep specialist can order a sleep apnea test, which uses equipment to monitor your breathing and oxygen levels while you sleep. Upon knowing the results, you will be able to understand your sleep apnea and how you can treat it.

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