January 27, 2020
Despite an estimated 22 million Americans suffering from the condition, the American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that around 80 percent of moderate to severe sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed. If you’re unfortunate enough to fall into this group, then your body could be at risk for various health problems without you knowing it – unless, of course, your disorder is diagnosed and treated right away! Here are 4 of the hidden consequences you might be facing if you’re battling sleep apnea every night.
1. Weight Gain
There’s something of a vicious cycle when it comes to sleep apnea and obesity. Excessive weight can raise your chances of suffering from a sleep disorder, but the reverse is also true: a lack of quality sleep can cause you to put on a few extra pounds. When sleep apnea deprives you of your rest, your body produces more ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates your appetite), which in turn can lead to eating more than you normally would. You’ll be particularly hungry for foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, such as cookies and chips. And since you’re likely to be too tired to exercise, you’re very likely to see sudden weight gain.
2. Heart Disease
The stress of waking up frequently during the night, the low oxygen levels in the blood that occur whenever you stop breathing, and an increase in blood pressure are all consequences of sleep apnea that can contribute to heart problems. People suffering from sleep disordered breathing are at a higher risk for potentially deadly heart attacks and strokes, and the problem only gets worse if the condition is never treated.
A study published in Family Medicine found that people with type 2 diabetes have about a 50% chance of also developing sleep apnea. This may be because sleep deprivation can prevent your body from using insulin properly, but it could also be due to the fact that both conditions are linked to obesity. In any case, you’ll have a harder time controlling diabetes until your sleep apnea is addressed.
4. Excessive Drowsiness
This is likely the most obvious consequence of sleep apnea: a lack of quality rest causes you to feel groggy during the day. In severe cases, you could be so sleepy that you fall asleep while driving. As a matter of fact, people with sleep apnea are at a five times greater risk of having a traffic accident. You could also be in danger of causing accidents at work, especially if your job requires you to operate heavy machinery.
As soon as you have any reason to ask yourself “Do I have sleep apnea?”, get in touch with a sleep expert right away to start the process of having your disorder diagnosed and treated. Otherwise, the above issues could dramatically shorten your life!
About the Author
Dr. Pamela West has decades of dental experience and has been involved in sleep apnea treatment for more than five years, and she offers oral appliance therapy as a comfortable, effective alternative for CPAP machines at her Las Vegas practice, iSleepSolutions. She works with a team of leading medical experts across Nevada to identify the symptoms and diagnose sleep disorders in order to ensure you receive the best treatment. To schedule an appointment, visit her website or call (702) 602-2000.
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