While it is estimated that nearly 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, about 80 percent of those cases go untreated. The condition, characterized by an inability to maintain proper breathing during sleep, can cause people to snore heavily or wake up periodically throughout the night to catch their breath. While this may sound inconvenient, it is much more than that; sleep apnea can relate to a wide range of severe health issues. Here are a few reasons you shouldn’t ignore your sleep apnea.
5 Health Problems Linked to Sleep Apnea
1. Poor Sleep Quality
When you wake up multiple times a night, your body is unable to complete the different stages of sleep that are designed to restore your health. During sleep there are phases that your body uses to “renew or reset”. The process is like cleaning the bad stuff up. Not being able to renew or reset the body, the body begins a slow breakdown over time. As a result, you can develop chronic fatigue, chronic pain, pain in the jaw joint, never feeling refreshed after sleep, etc. Over time, this perpetual tiredness can contribute to increased stress, poor immune health, and impaired cognitive function. Some have asked how the brain is able to clear the effects of the day when they are not able to get into the right phase of sleep during the night. Sleep quality is a must!
2. High Blood Pressure
Reduced airflow during sleep can deplete the amount of oxygen available in your blood and the body in general. This depletion of oxygen amplifies your overall stress levels giving a rise to inflammation throughout the body. When combined, these problems can increase your blood pressure—which, in turn, contributes to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health issues. If you have high blood pressure have you ever been told or asked why?
3. Weight Gain
As the American Heart Association explains, many people with obstructive sleep apnea are known to be overweight or obese. This may be because excess weight places pressure on the throat muscles, prompting airways to relax. Unfortunately, it has also been suggested that sleep deprivation can slow the metabolism, making it more difficult for individuals with sleep apnea to lose weight. It needs to be said that tall, short, fat, skinny folks have all been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Size, it seems, does not matter when to comes to diagnosis.
4. Heart Disease
Although it isn’t clear if sleep apnea causes heart disease directly, the National Sleep Foundation recognizes a strong correlation between the two conditions. Characterized by plaque build-up on artery walls, heart disease can restrict blood flow and raise a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. Common sense might tell a person that a lack of life giving oxygen or living below what medicine considers a threshold to be healthy, will over time create damage to the body and if long enough great damage.
Asthma—a condition that produces inflammation of the airway—can make breathing difficult whether you’re awake or sleep. When a person living with asthma also has sleep apnea, they may experience an increased risk of breathing problems.
Fortunately for all these conditions, there are sleep apnea treatments available to help you, once again, sleep through the night.
Inflammation in the body is bad. The body struggles to get every bit of oxygen it needs to function and when those levels fall short the body’s cortisol level goes up and everything in the body becomes affected. When the inflammation is up, our sleep quality, while struggling for oxygen, becomes poor. We tend to move around and about in our sleep which itself is a cause of even less quality of sleep.
7. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is the result of a long-standing disease process. By the time the body starts to break down the patient has been living with the condition perhaps all their life. Our office pre-screens children and adults for factors that not only bring sleep apnea to light but also highlight airflow problems that are precursor to a developing insidious disease.
If you are concerned about sleep apnea’s impact on your health, Peter A. McIntyre, DDS, PC, offers comprehensive dental solutions to help you breathe easier. Among these treatment options, this local dentist will test you for structural deficiencies or apnea. Visit this Colorado Springs, CO, dentist online to learn more about these sleep apnea treatments. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McIntyre or Dr Martin, please call (719) 475-2511.