Why Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Many choose other activities over sleep and other duties. Unfortunately, some people have a dangerous and sometimes fatal illness called sleep apnea that causes them to have trouble getting enough sleep. This blog understandably explains the complexity of sleep apnea, emphasising why it’s a severe health issue. We’ll also discuss how sleep health telemedicine in the USA is helping to promote sleep wellness.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disease in which people stop and start breathing during the night. You may suffer from sleep apnea if you snore loudly and feel exhausted in the morning.

Here are the primary different kinds of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common type, happens when the muscles in the throat loosen up and let air into the lungs but not out.

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is when the brain fails to communicate with the breathing muscles accurately.

Treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, also called complicated sleep apnea, happens when someone with OSA (found through a sleep study) changes to CSA while getting treatment for OSA.

Also Read: The Impact of Untreated Sleep Apnea on Life Expectancy: What You Need to Know

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Central and obstructive sleep apnea symptoms sometimes overlap, challenging diagnosing one over the other. The following are the most common symptoms of central and obstructive sleep apnea:

  • loud snoring
  • episodes in which you stop breathing while you are sleeping—which someone else would record
  • Heavy breathing while sleeping
  • Wake up with a dry mouth
  • morning headache
  • Sleep disturbance is sometimes referred to as insomnia
  • hypersomnia, or excessive daytime drowsiness
  • being unable to focus when awake
  • Intolerance

How Sleep Apnea Could Be Dangerous?

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure that is too high. Sleep apnea may worsen if you currently have it. When you wake up frequently during the night, your body experiences stress. Your blood pressure rises due to your hormone systems going into overdrive. When you can’t breathe well, the amount of oxygen in your blood drops, which may worsen things.

On the other hand, treatment can have an impact. Others with high blood pressure will see their blood pressure decrease after getting sleep apnea treatment. Their doctors might be able to prescribe less blood pressure medicine for them. (However, you should see your doctor before stopping or modifying your dosage.)

Heart Diseases

Heart attacks are more common in those who have OSA.

Lack of air could be the cause. People who have this problem are also more likely to have strokes and atrial fibrillation, which is a fast, unstable heartbeat.

Sleep apnea disrupts your body’s oxygen intake, which makes it challenging for your brain to control blood flow to your arteries and throughout your body.

Heart Failure

You may potentially develop right-sided heart failure (RHF) or pulmonary hypertension if you have OSA. This condition happens when your right ventricle isn’t strong enough to pump enough blood to your lungs.

Because of this, your veins fill up with blood, and fluid is pushed back into your tissues, making them grow. Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet is one sign of right-sided heart failure. Congestive heart failure can happen because of RHF.

Stroke

OSA increases your chance of having a stroke, known as ischemic because it can decrease blood flow to the brain. This condition happens when the brain doesn’t get enough blood. Not getting blood to the brain could happen because the brain isn’t getting enough blood flow or the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. 

These strokes occur exceptionally early in the morning, during REM sleep, and people are up to 25% more likely to have them while they sleep.

Diabetes Type 2

People with this disease often have sleep apnea; 80% or more of them may have OSA.

Each condition is more likely to occur in obese people. Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea are not causally related. However, inadequate sleep can prevent your body from using insulin effectively, which can eventually result in diabetes.

Gaining weight

Sleep apnea is more common in overweight people, and it also makes it more challenging to lose weight. According to experts, one of the leading causes of the sharp rise in OSA cases over the past 20 years may be obesity.

What occurs if someone is overweight? Fat buildup in your neck may prevent you from breathing at night. Conversely, sleep apnea can increase the amount of the hormone ghrelin your body releases, increasing your desire for carbohydrates and sweets. Additionally, chronic fatigue may make it more difficult for your body to convert food into energy, which can result in weight gain.

However, you may feel better after receiving treatment for OSA and have more energy for activities like exercise. Your sleep apnea may get better if you lose weight. Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP therapy, is the most widely used treatment for OSA. A CPAP machine uses a mask or nosepiece to produce consistent, stable air pressure.

Metabolic Disorder

These are a set of medical disorders that have been connected to OSA. If you have metabolic syndrome, you must have three of these disorders at minimum:

  • high blood sugar
  • low HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol
  • high triglyceride levels, a kind of blood fat
  • An excessive amount of fat around your waist
  • high blood pressure

Loss of Memory

Compared to others their age, some elderly persons experience higher memory loss or cognitive issues. Doctors call this as moderate cognitive impairment (MCI). Not everyone with MCI develops dementia, and the symptoms aren’t as bad as those of dementia. Research indicates that individuals with “sleep-disordered breathing” conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, may have memory lapses from MCI earlier. However, receiving therapy for OSA may prevent memory problems from growing worse.

Depression

You may be more prone to depression if you have trouble sleeping. Additionally, sadness may make it more likely for you to obtain less sleep. See your doctor if you have OSA and have been depressed for some time. They can provide therapies that improve your ZZZs and make you feel better.

When to visit a doctor

See a medical professional if any of the following happens to you or your partner:

  • Snoring loudly enough to annoy other people or yourself when you sleep
  • Gasping or choking upon awakening
  • Slow breathing while sleeping
  • Sleepy during the day

Not everyone who snores has obstructive sleep apnea, and snoring does not always mean that there is a significant problem.

If you snore loudly, especially if it’s interspersed with stillness, be sure to speak with a member of your healthcare team. Sleeping on your back may result in loud snoring and a higher frequency of apnea or breathing pauses.

Consult With your medical professional about any sleep issue that frequently makes you tired, exhausted, and agitated. Other conditions like narcolepsy may be the cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.

Conclusion

Sleep apnea goes beyond simple snoring or occasional daytime sleepiness; it is a pervasive and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. Its consequences on cardiovascular health, metabolic function, mental well-being, and daytime functioning are significant, with the potential for life-altering consequences if left untreated. Therefore, understanding the sleep apnea neck circumference is vital for identifying potential risk factors and taking proactive steps toward better sleep health.


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