Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects many people. It may seem to others that the person snores loudly and excessively in their sleep, when in actuality, they stop breathing for a few seconds, causing a loud sound. There are many negative side effects associated with untreated sleep apnea, but the good news is, it is a condition that can be treated by modern medicine in conjunction with some effort from the patient.
What Happens When You Stop Breathing?
During the small increments you stop breathing when you have sleep apnea, the heart is deprived of oxygen. While sleep apnea deprivation lasts only a few seconds, the effects are astoundingly detrimental. This lack of oxygen increases the heart rate, and therefore blood pressure. The heart, which is a muscle, also becomes stiffer and less flexible during oxygen deprivation.
Health Problems from Sleep Apnea
Because of the oxygen deprivation, one of the leading negative side effects from sleep apnea is arrhythmias and irregular heartbeat. Leaving sleep apnea untreated for too long can also lead to hypoxia, where there is too little oxygen in the bloodstream on a permanent basis, and increased levels of inflammation in the heart. Sadly, serious cases of sleep apnea can lead to complete heart failure and death.
There are many sleep problems associated with sleep apnea. Because a person stops breathing with regularity during the night, their sleep is interrupted. This leads to bouts of restless sleep or difficulty staying asleep, or waking up too frequently. A person who has undiagnosed sleep apnea may believe that they have insomnia, costing them time and money by many doctor’s visits to help try to cure the problem. A sleep study is the best way to find out if a person has sleep apnea, and from there, it can be treated.
Difficulties During the Day
Sleep apnea can really hurt a person during their daytime activities. It’s not uncommon for a patient with the problem to sleep through their alarm, or to be excessively tired during the day, perhaps even falling asleep at their desk. Sleep apnea has cost many people thousands of dollars with negative side effects such as loss of job and wages because of an untreated problem. A person with sleep apnea also has a lot of difficulty concentrating during the day.
Headaches and Mood
In addition to sleepiness, a person with sleep apnea may have blinding headaches and mood shifts. Headaches may be so bad that the person must call off of work, and mood changes can be very tough on friends and family. It wouldn’t be uncommon for a doctor to treat migraine and depression when the problem is really sleep apnea.
The cost of untreated sleep apnea is high, and it can be treated by the patient losing weight in most cases. CPAP machines are also common for those with sleep apnea. Using one of these machines allows many to lead productive, well-rested lives, free of sleep problems.