Potential Health Complications from Uncontrolled Sleep Apnea

by Medical XPress

Sleep apnea diagnosis with pills and stethoscopeSleep apnea can greatly disrupt your sleep cycles and leave you feeling unrested every morning. And anyone who shares your bed with you will likely feel unrested as well, since sleep apnea is frequently associated with snoring as well. But the potential health complications of uncontrolled sleep apnea go far beyond bags under the eyes and a need for a mid-morning nap. If you’re not controlling your sleep apnea through the use of a CPAP machine, you’re putting yourself at risk of many other, much more serious health complications. Here are just a few of them.

Shortness of Breath

Sleep apnea isn’t just snoring; you’ll actually stop breathing for just a few moments at a time, many times throughout the night. This deprives your body of oxygen while you sleep, which can leave you feeling short of breath during the day. Exercise and even simple physical activities like household chores can feel much more difficult. If you have other respiratory issues like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea can worsen these as well.

Higher Risk of Diabetes

People who struggle with obesity are more likely to develop sleep apnea, and are also more likely to have type 2 diabetes. However, studies have shown that sleep apnea itself can lead to type 2 diabetes, independent of any concerns related to weight. This is because people with sleep apnea are more likely to develop insulin resistance, which prevents their bodies’ cells from responding normally to insulin. This causes blood sugar levels to rise, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, even if you’re not overweight.

Digestive Issues

Those with sleep apnea are more prone to digestive issues throughout the day. Apnea can make common problems like heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease worse. Those with sleep apnea are also more likely to suffer from liver scarring and fatty liver disease.

Cardiovascular Disease

While the common link between obesity and sleep apnea can be a contributing factor to this problem, many individuals with sleep apnea suffer from a variety of cardiovascular diseases and complications as well. High blood pressure is very common in sleep apnea patients, which places a strain on the heart and can increase the risk of a heart attack. They’re also more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation, which can increase the risk of having a stroke.

Weakened Immune System

Insufficient sleep can weaken your body’s immune system, making you more likely to catch contagious diseases. This is especially of concern at this time, with the COVID-19 pandemic still killing Americans every day. And while you may not remember waking up with your sleep apnea, it is disruptive enough to your sleep that it will impact your immune system if left uncontrolled.

Memory Loss and Confusion

Sleep helps with your brain’s ability to consolidate memories and clearly reason through life’s daily decisions. If sleep apnea is disrupting your sleep, you’ll feel mentally foggy throughout the day and have a hard time thinking clearly. Additionally, people with sleep apnea are more likely to experience memory loss as a result of their sleep troubles.

Decreased Libido

Finally, apnea can impact your sex drive. Most people with sleep apnea have a decreased libido, and in men, apnea can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.

Managing Your Sleep Apnea

While there is no cure for sleep apnea, there is an easy way to manage it: a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine is an external breathing apparatus that you wear only at night. You wear a mask over your nose and mouth (or in some cases, just over your nose) and the air pressure from the CPAP helps to keep your airways open while you sleep so that you don’t stop breathing at any point.

While many people find a CPAP mask uncomfortable at first, adjusting to wearing one at night just takes a little time. There are also special pillows available to make it easier to sleep with your CPAP mask on. With just a little bit of time, you’ll find yourself sleeping with your CPAP machine with no troubles. You’ll get more sleep, wake up feeling well rested, and will be combating potentially serious health issues in the process.

If you’re looking for a CPAP machine to help with your obstructive sleep apnea, call or stop by one of our many locations in Texas. Our team is ready and waiting to help you get a good night’s sleep again.