What Happens if Sleep Apnea is Left Untreated?

Sleep Apnea Untreated Risks

Awareness about the health risks of sleep apnea is gaining momentum given the kind of health risks the condition can present.

In addition to the danger of sleep deprivation, a number of studies show that obstructive sleep apnea or OSA (a common form of sleep apnea) can also lead to heart-related risks including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, heart arrhythmia, as well as other health risks such as Type 2 Diabetes.

So, sleep apnea, if left untreated, in addition to causing excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep deprivation, can also lead to serious health risks.

For this reason, sleep apnea cannot and should not be ignored. If you suspect you or anyone close to you is suffering from sleep apnea, consult with a professional sleep coach without any unnecessary delay.

Keep in mind that with an accurate diagnosis and timely treatment, the effects on your day-to-day life and the health risks associated with obstructive sleep apnea can be minimized.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder which causes shallow breathing or pauses in breathing. OSA occurs when the upper respiratory airways get blocked – and when this happens, airflow is impacted.

The obstructions can happen due to the tongue falling back into the airway, or because the neck and throat muscles collapse. In addition, enlarged tonsils can also block airflow. 

Anytime airflow is blocked, the brain sends signals to the respiratory system to resume the flow of oxygen – which is why people suffering from sleep apnea often gasp, snort, jerk their body, or choke loudly to resume breathing. This process can happen multiple times during sleep leading to sleep disruptions.

High-Risk Health Complications of Sleep Apnea

The longer sleep apnea goes untreated, the higher the risk of a person developing serious health complications.

1. Daytime Fatigue – If you suffer from sleep apnea, constant sleep disruptions through the night can leave you feeling extremely fatigued during the day. You may find that your concentration levels and productivity drop.

If your mental and physical energy dip, you may struggle with activities that require you to be physically and mentally active such as driving or working at your job. Sleep apnea can also lead to people experiencing mood swings – you might feel irritated or experience depression.

2. Heart Health Risks – As mentioned above, OSA can lead to serious heart health conditions. In patients suffering from sleep apnea, blood oxygen levels can drop. When this happens, the body will compensate for the low oxygen levels by increasing your blood pressure.

The danger comes from the fact that this increase in blood pressure continues even when the person is awake. Over a period of time it can lead to the person developing hypertension.

3. Type 2 Diabetes – Sleep apnea can impact insulin resistance which is a critical factor in blood sugar control. If insulin resistance increases, it can lead to the person developing Type 2 Diabetes. Check if you are at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

4. Liver Problems -- Sleep apnea can also impact a healthy liver. Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea have seen abnormal results from liver-function tests. These tests have revealed signs of scarring, which can be identified as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

5. Surgery and Medication Complications -- There is potential for complications during and after major surgeries, as those with obstructive sleep apnea are prone to breathing problems. Issues are even more amplified when sleep apnea patients are laying on their back and sedated. Certain types of medication, like general anesthesia, can also heighten risks. Before any surgeries or taking medication, those with sleep apnea should consult with their doctor to go over any risks.

Treatment Path for Sleep Apnea

Good sleep health is just as necessary as practicing healthy eating and exercising. Your body and mind needs to rest well in order to be productive and sharp during waking hours. Poor quality of sleep, on the other hand, can impact your body and your brain in more ways than one.

Consult with your doctor or a professional sleep coach if you suffer from poor-quality sleep.

A professional sleep coach will conduct a thorough examination of your condition and symptoms to rule out other sleep disorders and to accurately assess the severity of your sleep apnea.

Based on the severity of your condition and symptoms, you might be advised to try different treatments including oral appliances, surgery, or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, all common and highly effective treatment options available for sleep apnea.

The COVID-19 crisis doesn’t have to stop those who are suffering from getting tested. There are also at-home sleep tests and studies available. These methods are quick and convenient to use. They look similar to an oxygen mask and use sensors to detect breathing patterns throughout the night. Please note that this type of method monitors breathing, not sleep itself, and that they need to be prescribed by a doctor.

Valley Sleep Therapy – We Believe in Sensational Sleep for All!

If you are looking for information about sleep devices and products or services for treating different sleep disorders, visit us at Valley Sleep Therapy. Browse our online CPAP supplies store or visit us in Mesa, AZ today!