Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder that occurs when tissues in the airway prevent a person from breathing during sleep. These episodes, called apneas, can occur dozens or even hundreds of times in a single night. Unfortunately, some people dismiss OSA as nothing more than an annoyance that makes them feel tired. However, it should not be taken so lightly! In fact, if sleep apnea remains untreated, it could lead to some dangerous consequences, including:
High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
People with untreated OSA are more likely to develop hypertension than those who get high-quality sleep. The pauses in breathing can stress your system and interfere with your hormone balance, which can drive up your blood pressure. High blood pressure, in turn, can increase your risk of coronary artery disease, which is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a widely misunderstood disease. While some people boil it down to diet and exercise, it is actually a lot more complicated than that. In fact, if you do not sleep well due to OSA or other conditions, your body may not be able to use insulin properly. It is also important to note that low-quality sleep can increase your cravings for certain foods, including sugary and starchy items that people with diabetes should be cautious about eating.
The low-quality sleep associated with OSA can interfere with your hunger and satiety hormones. Therefore, you may overindulge in rich foods that could lead to weight gain. Plus, because OSA can cause daily fatigue, you may be less likely to get adequate amounts of physical activity.
Anxiety and Depression
A lack of restful sleep is linked with an increased risk of mental health struggles, including anxiety and depression. Even worse, anxiety and depression can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. This vicious cycle can have major consequences for your quality of life and your relationships with your loved ones.
When you do not sleep well, your reactions are slower than they should be. You may be at a heightened risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving accounts for around 100,000 crashes each year.
What Can You Do?
The above information makes it obvious that sleep apnea is a serious condition. However, you should not let it frighten you. In most cases, OSA is easy to treat. As long as you comply with your medical team’s instructions, you can manage your condition and lower your risk of numerous health complications.
Meet the Practice
Dr. Mitch Conditt is an experienced dentist who has dedicated his practice to helping patients find relief from obstructive sleep apnea. If you suspect you have OSA, or you are looking for an alternative to an uncomfortable CPAP machine, our team would be happy to guide you on your next steps. Contact us at 817-527-8500 to learn more about how we can help you enjoy a healthier life.