Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

How much rest you get during the night directly affects how well you function during the day, and if you’re not getting quality sleep, it can have long-term effects on your health. One of the most common sleep disorders is sleep apnea, which affects 22 million Americans and can be dangerous to your body if left untreated.

There are three types of sleep apnea, and all present dangers you encounter breathing while trying to sleep. To understand the risks involved in having this condition, let’s look at how this condition works while you’re sleeping, which types there are, and what happens if you leave it untreated.

Residents of the Glendale, Arizona area looking for relief from sleep apnea or other sleeping problems can find help with Drs. Sarah and Vinod Patel and the experienced team at the Sonoran Sleep Center.

Understanding sleep apnea

When you sleep, your body goes through four to five sleep cycles, and as your body reaches the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, your heart rate and breathing slow down while your muscles relax. 

Sleep apnea affects your ability to breathe as you sleep, causing you to stop and start breathing several times a night. This condition can make it difficult to get a full night’s rest, and the resulting lethargy and fatigue you feel after getting up will affect your activities during the day.

Types of sleep apnea

This sleep disorder comes in three forms

Obstructive sleep apnea

With this version of the disorder the muscles located in the back of your throat relax, and when that happens it closes your airway as you take air in. This reduces the amount of air you get when sleeping, which can lower your blood oxygen levels and may cause you to choke, snort, or gasp while sleeping. This type of sleep apnea is the most common.

Central sleep apnea

Though not as common as the obstructive type of sleep apnea, it is still definitely a threat to your regular breathing while asleep. With this version your brain doesn’t transmit signals to your breathing muscles, which leaves your body not breathing for short periods of time during slumber. This can result in waking up with shortness of breath, having difficulty getting to sleep, or staying asleep.

Complex sleep apnea

Also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this means you’re dealing with both types of this sleep disorder.

Risks of leaving it untreated

The biggest problem with the condition is how it affects your breathing as you sleep, and that can create a lot of other problems for your body. This includes dropping your heart rate the longer your body lacks proper oxygen, raising your blood pressure, and thickening your heart walls. 

The results of these and other factors of sleep apnea can lead to complications like daytime fatigue, hypertension, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, complications with medications or surgery, liver problems, and depriving your partner of sleep. 

Risk factors that increase the chances of the obstructive form of this condition include obesity, having a narrowed airway, being male (men are up to three times more likely to deal with this condition), being older, smoking, nasal congestion, family history, and some medical conditions. 

Risks of central sleep apnea also include being older and being male, as well as heart disorders, narcotic pain medications, and having a stroke.

There are many dangers to having sleep apnea, and though millions of people deal with it untreated, getting help can make a big difference for your long-term health. If you or someone you love is struggling with sleep apnea, make an appointment with the Drs. Patel at the Sonoran Sleep Center to get treatment today.

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