There is increasing evidence that untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can have a significant impact on your personal health. Successful treatment of OSA may reduce the dangers of sleep apnea.
If you know you have sleep apnea, or you snore, here are the health dangers of sleep apnea and snoring that you should know about. If you’re not sure about treatment for sleep apnea or snoring, this should be the wake-up call you need to discuss your snoring and other symptoms with your doctor or a SomnoMed dentist.
Weight Gain or Excess Weight
Half of overweight people also have sleep apnea. This is partly because of the extra weight that collects around the neck, making it harder to keep breathing at night. The good news is that losing weight improves symptoms related to sleep disorders. If you’re overweight and your spouse or other family members tease you about snoring, talk to your doctor about a referral to a sleep specialist and/or SomnoMed sleep dentist. Treatment will get you (and your family) back to sleep and your weight down.
Acid Reflux / GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is very common in people with sleep apnea. People who have sleep apnea also may have GERD because of the disordered way in which their throat closes while air moves in and out during sleep, causing pressure changes that can suck the contents of their stomach back up into the esophagus. Both GERD and sleep apnea are related to being overweight and both seem to ease as people return to a normal weight.
High Blood Pressure
Obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure in people who have it. The frequent nighttime wakings that plague people with sleep apnea cause hormonal systems to go into overdrive, which results in high blood pressure levels at night. Low blood-oxygen levels, caused by the cutoff of oxygen, may also contribute to hypertension in people with sleep apnea. The good news: Some people with high blood pressure who are treated for sleep apnea can cut back on their blood pressure medications.
People with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to suffer heart attacks and die in the middle of the night. The causes may be low oxygen or the stress of waking up often during sleep. Stroke and atrial fibrillation – a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat — are also associated with obstructive sleep apnea. The disrupted oxygen flow caused by sleep apnea makes it hard for your brain to regulate the flow of blood in arteries and the brain itself. Treatment for this sleep disorder is effective: Clinical studies have also shown that treating sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or a SomnoDent oral device reduces your heart disease risk to that of people without sleep apnea.
Mental Health Issues
Sleep apnea can affect your mental well-being, leading to issues from crankiness from a lack of sleep to serious depression. In fact, the link between sleep apnea, snoring, and depression is well established. A recent study of 74 snorers showed that the more daytime sleepiness people report, the greater their chances of also having mild depression or anxiety symptoms.
Do you often wake up with a headache? It’s not just from your spouse complaining about your snoring. Researchers found a connection between frequent morning headaches and sleep disorders including insomnia and sleep apnea.
Type 2 Diabetes
Sleep apnea is very common among people with type 2 diabetes – up to 80% of diabetics have some obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity is a common risk factor for both disorders. Although studies haven’t shown a clear link between sleep apnea alone and type 2 diabetes, sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.