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Sleep Apnea Complications You Can Avoid with Treatment

Sleep Apnea Complications You Can Avoid with Treatment

Sleep Apnea Complications You Can Avoid with Treatment

Most people don’t know they have sleep apnea, so they don’t seek treatment. That’s dangerous because untreated sleep apnea causes serious health problems like an irregular heartbeat. Here’s what you need to know about sleep apnea complications.

Most people don’t realize they have sleep apnea. They sleep soundly through the night because their disrupted breathing doesn’t wake them. But if you share your household with others, it’s a good bet that someone has noticed the top sign of sleep apnea: loud snoring.

When friends, family, or your partner joke (or complain) about your loud snoring, consider it a red flag that you may have sleep apnea, a condition you should never ignore. Without treatment, sleep apnea significantly increases your risk of serious health problems.

If you snore loudly or have other sleep apnea symptoms, it’s time to protect your health and meet with the caring team here at Dr. James M. Maragos, DDS. We screen for sleep apnea and offer highly effective treatments that don’t require wearing an uncomfortable mask.

Here’s everything you need to know about sleep apnea symptoms and why the condition is so dangerous.

Sleep apnea symptoms

When you sleep, your tongue and other soft tissues relax and slide toward the back of your throat, where the airway is located. Snoring begins when the tissues partially cover the airway; the air you breathe in and out makes the tissues vibrate.

Your snoring gets louder as more of the airway is covered — until the tissue completely blocks the airway. Then you stop breathing (an apnea episode), and your snoring temporarily pauses.

Even though you don’t wake up, every apnea episode disrupts your sleep, causing symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty waking in the morning
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Morning headaches
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Others in your household may notice a cycle of loud snoring, silence (during an apnea episode), followed by a gasp when you start breathing again.

Why sleep apnea is so dangerous

Apnea episodes can occur 5-30 times or more every hour. With severe apnea (30 episodes or more per hour), you stop breathing at least 240 times during eight hours of sleep.

Each apnea episode has a dramatic impact on your body. When your oxygen levels suddenly fall, your brain triggers an acute stress response, hormones race through your body, blood flow suddenly increases, and significant pressure changes occur in your heart and blood vessels.

Without treatment, these ongoing changes cause inflammation and serious health problems.

Health complications caused by sleep apnea

Sleep apnea raises your risk of the following health concerns: 

Cardiovascular disease

Ongoing stress on your heart and blood vessels leads to:

  • Arrhythmias (fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat)
  • High blood pressure
  • Atherosclerosis (clogged arteries)
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

When severe sleep apnea goes untreated, you’re four times more likely to develop an arrhythmia and twice as likely to suffer a heart attack compared to people who don’t have the condition.

Type 2 diabetes

The biochemical changes caused by apnea episodes affect how your body uses sugar. As a result, you develop insulin resistance, a condition limiting your body’s ability to use insulin. Without treatment, insulin resistance progresses to cause Type 2 diabetes. 

Memory loss and other cognitive problems

As you might imagine, the lack of oxygen during an apnea episode takes a toll on your brain, especially on your ability to concentrate and make decisions.

 Many people also notice changes in their memory. Memories are organized and stored while you sleep. As sleep apnea interrupts your sleep, your brain can’t consolidate memories and you experience memory loss.

Mood disorders

Interrupted sleep makes you moody, irritable, and emotional. Sleep deficiencies also increase your risk of mood disorders like depression.

To learn if you have sleep apnea and to get treatment with an oral appliance, call the office of Dr. James M. Maragos, DDS in La Grange, Illinois, or request an appointment online today.