Sleep Apnea is a Serious Condition

An irritated woman laying on her side in bed reaches over to pinch her male partner's nose who is sleeping and snoring next to her.

Sleep apnea affects millions of individuals worldwide, many of whom are unaware of how serious a sleep apnea problem may be. To begin with, the term “apnea” in Greek means “without breath.” This simply implies that a person will stop breathing unconsciously while asleep, which has severe effects including death. Sleep apnea is a severe condition that has claimed the lives of many people. Sleep apnea can lead to a slew of additional serious diseases when left untreated, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, and other problems. It can also cause automobile accidents and occupational injuries due to drowsy driving and lack of attention.

What are the Types of Sleep Apnea?

There are three types of sleep apnea–Obstructive Sleep Apnea (commonly referred to as OSA), central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type; however, the root causes for each differ. If left untreated, all three of these eventually stop a person’s breathing repeatedly during sleep, often hundreds of times each night. The stoppage can last for a minute or longer, but most people are not aware it is happening since the cessations do not trigger a full awakening in most cases. However, if ignored the consequences can be serious–including death.

Who Can Get Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea affects men more than women and, among males, African-American and Hispanic males are at greater risk. Another cause of sleep apnea is weight. Being overweight can aid in the development of sleep apnea. Finally, being over the age of 40 is also a frequent occurrence among sleep apnea patients. However, don’t be fooled; sleep apnea affects people of all ages. To understand the consequences of sleep apnea, it’s important to learn about them.

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring extremely loudly. Snoring can often be so loud that those closest to the snorer have difficulty being in the same room. Other indicators of sleep apnea include but are not limited to obesity, daytime sleepiness, disruptions during nighttime sleep, morning headaches, or a dry mouth upon waking. Many of these signs may be observed, but in some situations, there may be only one or two. The only way to know if sleep apnea is present and the severity of the problem is by having a sleep study. A laboratory test can be done or a home sleep study kit can be utilized to obtain this information.

What Happens if I Don’t Treat My Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea, if left untreated can have some serious consequences. Sleep apnea not only leads to sleepiness during the daytime, but it also puts strain on the heart. When sleep apnea occurs, it means that breathing is repeatedly disrupted throughout the night. This can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. In addition, sleep apnea can also lead to stroke. If you or someone you know has sleep apnea, it’s important to seek treatment right away in order to avoid these serious consequences.

There are many ways to treat sleep apnea depending on the severity of the condition. For mild sleep apnea, a doctor may suggest weight loss or avoidance of alcohol before bedtime. More moderate cases might require the use of an oral appliance or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. The most severe cases might require surgery. Regardless of the severity, sleep apnea is a serious condition that should not be ignored. If you think you or someone you know might have sleep apnea, talk to a doctor and get checked out. It could save your life.

Find out more information today about sleep apnea by contacting Frederick sleep apnea dentist Dr. Jeffrey W. Cross, today at 614-915-0165.

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