Most people think sleep apnea means you just snore loudly when you sleep which is just annoying to sleeping partners. Although snoring is a major symptom of sleep apnea, it’s not the biggest danger of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can actually affect your overall health quite severely. Fortunately, getting sleep apnea treatment and using it consistently can dramatically decrease your health risks associated with sleep apnea. Discover the 7 hidden dangers of sleep apnea and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Heart Disease
One of the first and most severe dangers of sleep apnea is an increased risk of heart disease. Since the heart has to work harder to pump oxygen to the brain throughout the night, it puts a huge strain on the heart. The low oxygen levels during sleep make it difficult for your brain to control your blood flow through your arteries. As a result, people with sleep apnea are at a higher risk of having a heart attack.
Sleep apnea’s disruption to your oxygen levels can also lead to strokes and atrial fibrillation which is a fast and fluttering heartbeat. Overall, sleep apnea is incredibly damaging to your heart.
2. High Blood Pressure
Another health complication and danger of sleep apnea is high blood pressure. Sleep is supposed to be restorative and restful but when you have sleep apnea, it’s quite the opposite of that. As the body stops breathing repeatedly throughout the night, it causes the oxygen levels to become low. Every time they get too low and you essentially stop breathing, your brain sends a message to your blood vessels to make more oxygen available to power the brain and the heart. As a result, the increased blood flow puts pressure on the walls of the blood vessels and thus raises the blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.
3. Adult Asthma
There is a link between adults who suffer from asthma and sleep apnea. Although there’s no study proving the link, there is past evidence of a connection between the two. For instance, one doctor who treats patients with adult asthma learned that 1 in 4 of his patients who had adult asthma also had sleep apnea. Researchers believe the rate is much higher than 25% but no studies have been conducted to prove their theory.
4. Weight Gain
If weight gain didn’t cause you to get sleep apnea, you might experience weight gain directly as a result of sleep apnea. This is for several reasons. To start, sleep apnea prevents you from getting a restful night of sleep. Eventually, you will feel sleep deprived which will impact your energy levels during the day. This means you likely won’t have the energy to exercise.
In addition, sleep deprivation can affect your hunger hormone levels. The hormone responsible for suppressing your appetite, leptin, will decrease which means your stomach won’t know when it’s full. Ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates your appetite, raises which makes you feel hungrier. The combined effect will result in overeating and craving calorie-dense foods. Eventually, the lack of exercise and increased calorie intake will lead to weight gain.
5. Acid Reflux
Another dangerous result of sleep apnea is acid reflux. Acid reflux, also known as heartburn, can feel uncomfortable and if it occurs more than twice per week could indicate a condition known as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). Over time, acid reflux can result in difficulty swallowing, asthma, chronic cough, or even damage to the esophagus. Studies show that getting sleep apnea treatment can reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.
6. Car Accidents
One of the side effects of sleep deprivation is a loss of focus and even falling asleep throughout the day. It’s actually quite common for those suffering from sleep apnea to get into car accidents more frequently than people without sleep apnea. This is because the sleep deprivation is making them so tired that they cannot concentrate when driving and often fall asleep at the wheel. Not only can this harm your own life but the lives of others. With sleep apnea treatment, you can regain your energy levels and never have to worry about getting in a car accident due to feeling tired again.
7. Type 2 Diabetes
Nearly 80% of people with type 2 diabetes also suffer from sleep apnea. Although there isn’t any known cause of the link between type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea, it’s likely connected to weight gain and sleep deprivation affecting insulin production. Getting sleep apnea treatment and eating a healthy diet with exercise can help you reverse type 2 diabetes.
Reduce Dangers with Sleep Apnea Treatment in Los Gatos
If you want to avoid the dangers above and improve your quality of sleep and overall health at the same time, sleep apnea treatment is a good solution for you. Dr. Nehawandian can provide you with a comfortable oral appliance to wear while you sleep to prevent your airway from collapsing. After using the appliance every night, you will begin to feel rested and refreshed every morning. As a bonus, you will reduce your risk of certain health conditions. Contact our Los Gatos sleep dentist today to book an appointment by calling (408) 354-5600.