Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing becomes shallow or even completely stops for a brief moment during sleep. It can occur many times throughout the night, affecting your mental clarity and alertness the next day. Many people are unaware that sleep apnea is happening during the night and that they need sleep apnea treatment.
Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type of sleep apnea, occurs when something is blocking your airway during sleep. You may have a smaller airway in your nose or throat, enlarged tonsils or too much tissue in your throat. During the night, your diaphragm and chest muscles work hard to open the airway and get enough air while you sleep.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of OSA:
- Daytime fatigue
- Trouble waking up in the morning
- Forgetfulness or trouble concentrating
- Night sweats
- Restlessness during sleep
- Morning headaches
- Dry mouth or sore throat
Many times, your partner may notice the symptoms before you do. Although sleep apnea has many short-term effects, it’s the long-term effects that are more worrisome.
Long-Term Effects of Sleep Apnea When Untreated
Sleep apnea impacts every aspect of your life, both physically and emotionally. Many people with OSA have relationship problems, because it can affect your sex life. Your snoring and restlessness may prevent your partner from sleeping well, which can also make him or her irritable. Performance at work can suffer, which leads to long-term stress. Drowsiness can also raise your risk of having an accident while you’re driving. Then, there are physical effects:
High Blood Pressure
OSA and hypertension are closely linked. It’s estimated that 50 percent of people with OSA have high blood pressure. Having a higher blood pressure at night increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure can increase your risk of having OSA, too. These conditions seem to go hand-in-hand.
In the United States, the leading cause of death is heart disease. The major risk for heart disease is high blood pressure. With hypertension being a risk factor for OSA, these two issues are linked together. It’s important to your heart to get sleep apnea treatment.
Under normal circumstances, a stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. If you have OSA, your risk of a stroke is increased. When your breathing stops during the night, your brain is deprived of oxygen. According to the Mayo Clinic, men who suffer from OSA are three times higher at risk for a stroke than men who don’t have OSA.
The link between diabetes and OSA is not as well-defined, but researchers do know that the two conditions are linked. OSA affects blood sugar control during the night, making it more difficult to control blood sugar levels over time. It’s estimated that 40 percent of those with OSA will be diagnosed with diabetes.
Treating Sleep Apnea in Detroit
Sleep specialists have many treatment options for a better night’s sleep. If you’re looking for treatment that can lower your risk of developing long-term health problems from sleep apnea, call Michigan Head and Neck at (586) 573-0438.