Sleep Apnea

Possible Effects of Sleep Apnea if Untreated

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in Sleep Apnea | 0 comments

Sleep apnea, as defined by the National Institutes of Health, is a common disorder in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while asleep. Though sleep apnea can cause a person to snore loudly, it is totally different from snoring. Snoring occurs when the airway becomes partially blocked. Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is when a person stops breathing (for several seconds to minutes). These pauses in breathing can occur 30 times or more an hour during a sleep cycle. The dangerous effect of this sleep-disrupting chronic condition is that it can completely block the flow of oxygen. However, since a blood test cannot diagnose the condition and the person who has it is not aware that he or she has it since it only occurs during sleep, sleep apnea is, therefore, often undiagnosed.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of this sleeping disorder. This causes breathing pauses or shallow breathing and loud snoring. Though obstructive sleep apnea can affect anyone, this is more common in people who are overweight.

Another type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea. This type is less common and, typically, does not cause snoring. In central sleep apnea, the area of the brain that controls breathing does not send the correct signals to the breathing muscles, resulting to brief periods of pauses in breathing. This type of sleep apnea is more common in people with certain medical conditions or use certain medicines.

If untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems including: high blood pressure, stroke, heart failing, irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, diabetes, depression, worsening of ADHD, and headaches. In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents.

One form of sleep apnea treatment, which many patients choose, is through the use of oral breathing devices, such as nasal dilators, which a person should wear at night.

 

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