Have sleep apnea?
Here’s how the story goes, from your body’s perspective:
You fall asleep. Your body relaxes all your muscles, including those in your throat.
Uh oh. When your throat muscles relaxed, the tissues in your throat blocked your airway. Your body responds by waking you up, hoping to breathe.
Not only were you momentarily deprived of oxygen when your airway was blocked, decreasing the levels of oxygen in your blood, but your awakening has plunged you out of any deep sleep you were experiencing.
This awakening creates stress that causes your body to increase hormone production.
These episodes o
Sleep apnea can have severe long-term consequences
to your health. Today, we are going to talk about what some of those may be.
Let’s first focus on the results of the sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea. Did you know that people with sleep apnea are five times more likely to get involved in car accidents? Sleep deprivation can cause:
- Severe Fatigue
- Mental Confusion
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Memory Loss
- Moodiness, Irritability, and Depression
- Car Accidents
Now let’s talk about what stress and deprivation of oxygen can do to your body.
- High Blood Pressure – The stress created by waking up due to oxygen deprivation increases blood pressure.
- Atrial Fibrillation – Abnormal heartbeat such as atrial fibrillation, a fast, fluttery heart, is linked to sleep apnea.
- Stroke – Increased levels of stroke is also linked to sleep apnea.
- Heart Disease – People who have sleep apnea are more likely to have heart attacks, which may be attributed to high blood pressure, the stress of waking up, and oxygen deprivation.
Sleep apnea can also cause the following blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight-related issues.
- Type 2 Diabetes – Sleep apnea strongly correlates with Type 2 Diabetes, with 80% or more of people who have Type 2 also struggling with sleep apnea. Although obesity could be the root cause of both diseases, lack of sleep can make it hard for the body to process insulin correctly. Sleep apnea increases your risk for developing insulin resistance which leads to Type 2.
- Abnormal Cholesterol Levels – People who struggle with sleep apnea are more likely to have high levels of bad cholesterol, LDL, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
- Weight Gain – Sleep apnea also correlates with weight gain. When the body releases additional hormones as a result of the stress caused by waking up, it releases a specific hormone called ghrelin, which makes you crave carbs and sugar. Additionally, when you’re exhausted from sleep apnea, your body struggles to convert food into energy rather than simply storing it as fat.
- Metabolic Syndrome – Metabolic syndrome involves high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and weight gain. It is also linked to
higherrisk of heart disease. In general, metabolic syndrome is correlated with sleep apnea.
Finally, the following health issues are related to sleep apnea:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – If someone already has COPD, sleep apnea can worsen their symptoms.
- Liver Problems – Sleep apnea is correlated with higher than normal levels of liver enzymes and even fatty liver disease.
- Complications with Medications and Surgery – People who struggle with sleep apnea can have issues with certain medication, specifically general anesthesia. Some have complications after major surgery because of their breathing problems, especially when they have been sedated or they were lying on their back.
- Adult Asthma – It has been reported that people who receive treatment for sleep apnea have fewer asthma attacks.
- Weakened Immune System – Lack of sleep weakens the immune system, something caused by sleep apnea.
- Acid Reflux – People also report fewer cases of acid reflux after being treated for sleep apnea and vice versa.
Although sleep apnea is a sad story for your body, it can still end with a “happily ever after!” There are treatments available for people who struggle with sleep apnea, specifically mandibular advancement devices, which are far more comfortable than CPAP. Dr. Owen Mandanas would be happy to discuss your options with you. Reach out today!