Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes the body to stop and start breathing repeatedly during sleep. One may think that it is simply a harmless habit, but it can actually affect the body in negative ways when left untreated.
Since breathing is interrupted during sleep, the brain, the heart, and the rest of the body do not get the right amount of oxygen that they need. That alone should be a cause for concern. Sleep apnea has been linked to a myriad of illnesses and safety concerns that can endanger one’s life, which is why it is important to receive treatment as early as possible.
If you know someone who has sleep apnea symptoms or if you yourself are diagnosed with the condition, be aware of the following effects that this sleep disorder can cause to the body.
Since sleep apnea deprives the body of the right amount of oxygen that it needs, it can worsen symptoms in patients suffering from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It also increases one’s risk of getting complications related to these conditions.
If you have COPD and suffer from sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to discuss with your physician treatment options that are available, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Considered as the most effective treatment for sleep apnea, CPAP works by keeping the airways from being blocked or from collapsing. During the course of treatment, medical oxygen sensors may also be used to administer oxygen more efficiently.
High Blood Pressure
If there’s one dangerous duo that you should know, it’s sleep apnea and hypertension. People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have an increased risk for high blood pressure. Hypertensive individuals may develop sleep apnea over time, or hypertension may make symptoms more difficult for those who already have the sleep disorder.
For hypertensive patients, it helps to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, as well as to take regular medications not only to keep the condition under control but also to prevent the occurrence or the worsening of sleep apnea symptoms.
People who suffer from sleep apnea are often deprived of good quality sleep every night, which can lead to the onset of mood swings and depression. In fact, a recent study shows that about 46 percent of individuals who have obstructive sleep apnea have shown depressive symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, having trouble concentrating, lack of appetite, and overall feelings of sadness and emptiness.
If you are suffering from both sleep apnea and depression, consult a primary doctor. He or she may refer you to a sleep clinic that will closely monitor your sleep patterns or to a therapist who will help you overcome your depression.
Risk for Injury and Other Accidents
Long-term sleep deprivation does not only take a toll on the body; it also puts your safety at risk and even gets others involved. Since sleep apnea has been linked to having difficulty thinking and concentrating, as well as being drowsy or restless during the day, it can pose as a safety risk while driving or performing day-to-day tasks at work, especially if it involves heavy machinery. Aside from these, having sleep apnea may affect one’s overall quality of life for the worse.
Sleep apnea does not only let you wake up on the wrong side of the bed every morning; it also puts your health in danger. Start taking steps to treat sleep apnea, either through medical intervention or healthier lifestyle changes. Once you’ve done so, hitting the sack should feel easier to do, and your health should improve dramatically.