The effects of sleep apnea can leave sufferers tired even after a seemingly long night's sleep. Sleep apnea can also be deadly if undiagnosed or left untreated.
A sufferer of sleep apnea will experience episodes where they stop breathing when asleep. This cuts off the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain, with life threatening consequences in the long term.
Types of Sleep Apnea
The two main types of sleep apnea are as below, with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) the most common one:
- Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep, obstructing the air way and cutting off oxygen supply
- Central sleep apnea is the rarer form which involves the in ability of the brain to send the appropriate signals to regulate breathing
Health Effects of Sleep Apnea
You brain and body requires a continuous supply of fresh oxygenated blood for it to function optimally. When this supply is restricted, as is the case with sleep apnea, it can cause grave complications. The health effects of sleep apnea can include:
High Blood Pressure and Cardiac Problems
Blood pressure and strain to the cardiovascular system are multiplied when the blood oxygen falls suddenly as happens when you have sleep apnea. Studies have revealed that if you suffer from sleep apnea then you are more likely to suffer from hypertension than someone who does not have it. Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, your risk may be multiplied many times over.
The impact on the heart of sleep apnea is greater and if you have underlying heart conditions then the chances of you suffering a fatal cardiac episode becomes a real possibility. Other heart related conditions, which are made worse if you suffer from sleep apnea, include:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Congestive heart failure
- Coronary artery disease
The risks of suffering a stroke are also increased if you suffer from sleep apnea compared to a non-sufferer.
Liver Related Problems
Another health effect of sleep apnea is an impact on your liver. If you suffer from sleep apnea then the results to basic liver function tests could a lot worse than someone of similar age lifestyle who does not suffer from sleep apnea. Again if you have underlying liver problems then sleep apnea can make them worse.
Fatigue and Sleep Apnea
To protect itself from becoming starved of oxygen, your body will take itself out of deep sleep and you wake up to kick start your breathing. This disturbs you sleeping pattern and affects the quality of sleep you get at night. This has a greater impact on your daytime activities where you could end up feeling drowsy, falling asleep on duty and general fatigue. Depending on the work you do this could expose you to dangerous risks e.g. if you are a driver or work with machinery then you are at a greater risk of workplace accidents.
Medication and Surgery Complications
Undiagnosed sleep apnea presents grave risk to life following major surgery. If you suffer from sleep apnea then you may suffer complications following surgery due to being under anesthetics and lying on your back. This may then mean treating you of other illnesses and injuries becomes complicated. Always tell your doctor of your sleep apnea prior to any major surgery.
Other effects of sleep apnea can include the following:
- Chronic headaches
This article has highlighted some of the major concerns and health effects of sleep apnea. If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from leave apnea then it is important you get a diagnosis. The complications and effects of sleep apnea can include serious heart problems and lead to death.