Four Ways Sleep Apnea Can Be DeadlyHold your breath for 60 seconds. Wait 30 minutes and hold it again. Now, do that twice an hour for eight hours. It’s difficult to get anything done, isn’t it? Now imagine doing that all night—there’s no way you would get a good night’s sleep! This is the case for many with obstructive sleep apnea. Those with sleep apnea can stop breathing hundreds of times during the night. The result can be deadly.

While snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, which is why it’s important to have a sleep study to determine the cause of snoring. Usually, a family member or bed partner notices this consistent snoring, which may also be followed by choking or gasping. While anyone can have sleep apnea, it is seen more frequently among African-American men, Hispanic men and those who are obese.

Is Sleep Apnea Really Deadly?

It’s obvious that sleep apnea is a major inconvenience. But deadly? Absolutely. Here are four ways sleep apnea can have a detrimental effect on your health. It can contribute to the following:

1. Diabetes

Those with diabetes are at a greater risk of health problems. If not treated correctly, this can lead kidney damage, nerve damage, blindness and amputation.

2. Daytime Sleepiness

Who hasn’t struggled with the 3 p.m. afternoon slump at work? With sleep apnea, your body isn’t getting the refreshing sleep that you need. That means you could be in danger of falling asleep while driving or while operating machinery. If you find yourself consistently and severely drowsy during these important tasks, speak with an ear, nose and throat doctor who can help you.

3. Heart Disease

Sleep apnea puts you at risk for heart disease—the number one killer of Americans.

4. Stroke

A stroke is a debilitating “brain attack” that can cause partial paralysis and loss of motor functions. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, which increases your risk of a stroke.

What are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?

If you have any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with your ENT:

  • Memory problems
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Increased daytime drowsiness
  • Urinating frequently during the night

 

The good news is that sleep apnea can be treated. Often this involves the use of a CPAP machine (Continual Positive Airway Pressure). This machine has a mask that fits over the nose, and sometimes the mouth. The CPAP machine delivers a steady stream of oxygen to keep the throat open, eliminating snoring and ensuring you don’t stop breathing during the night.

Still not sure if you have sleep apnea? Visit this page to take a test and be sure to share these results with your doctor.

 


Sources:

American Diabetes Association. “Complications.” 

American Sleep Apnea Association. “Sleep Apnea.”

American Sleep Apnea Association. “Test Yourself.”

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. National Institute of Health. “What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?”