Six Surprising Health Risks Of Sleep Apnea

by Dr. Vareldzis

Snoring. Everyone hates it. But when you snore too loudly, you could have sleep apnea. And that means you could be at a higher risk for several serious health problems.

Sleep apnea is when your throat closes up while you sleep. This causes you to panic. You’re suffocating! But the only thing causing this is your throat muscles being too relaxed, so you quickly open that airway and fall back asleep. This happens over and over, sometimes up to 30 times each hour. At our office in Medford, OR, we have a machine you can take home that will test whether you have sleep apnea. If you do, we can usually offer a mouthguard or CPAP machine to help.

Health Risks Due To Sleep Apnea

Before you start thinking this test and treatments are not worth the hassle, check out these six health risks associated with sleep apnea. Are you ready to ignore these?

  1. Heart disease. Americans are already at a higher risk for heart disease thanks to how often we eat fast food and how little we exercise. Now think about how constantly waking up and falling back asleep stresses the heart. A Mayo Clinic study shows that people who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to have irregular heart rhythms in the night that can trigger a sudden death. Another study shows men with sleep apnea have three times more risk for cardiovascular problems than those who sleep restfully through the night. While there’s no automatic connection here — sleep apnea doesn’t cause heart disease — the research shows that people who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to have heart problems because of it.
  1. Headaches. With your airway repeatedly closing and choking you, you aren’t breathing right. That means you’re not getting the oxygen you need. Worse, research shows a connection between not getting enough REM sleep and getting migraines or cluster headaches as a result. Because sleep apnea prevents you from getting a full night’s sleep, you are not getting the REM sleep your brain needs. That can lead to powerful headaches when you’re awake.
  1. Obesity. This one is tricky. Which causes which? Being overweight is one of the causes of sleep apnea, but suffering from sleep apnea has been linked to weight gain as well. Most likely, it’s a vicious downward spiral: you’re overweight, you get some sleep apnea symptoms, those lead to more weight gain, which makes sleep apnea worse, and on and on. For sure, your body makes you crave sugar and carbs when you don’t get enough sleep. And that’s exactly what sleep apnea does.
  1. Mood swings. Remember back in the day when you stayed up all night studying? Chances are, you got a little crazy toward the end. Humans need a good night of sleep; there’s no getting around that. And when you skip hours and hours of sleep, you get all moody. Sometimes you’re silly, and sometimes you’re depressed. Sleep apnea robs you of the restful sleep your brain needs, making you much more likely to get moody and cranky during the day.
  1. High blood pressure. When sleep apnea wakes you up in the middle of the night, your body goes a bit haywire. It starts releasing hormones it’s not supposed to because it’s all confused. All of that raises your blood pressure, leading to hypertension. And if you already have high blood pressure, untreated sleep apnea can make it dangerously worse. Need more proof? Some patients who get treatment for their sleep apnea have been able to cut back on their blood pressure medication.
  1. Auto accidents. Driving is such a regular part of our lives, we usually do it automatically. That’s why we often do something else while we’re driving. If we don’t talk on the phone, sing along to music, or listen to an audiobook, it can be really dull. We get used to not paying attention because we don’t need to. But what happens when you’re exhausted from sleep apnea? Your attention waivers. Your mind can’t focus like it normally does, so you can’t run on autopilot. But since you’re not used to that, you could be five times more likely to get into a car accident.

Let Us Help You Avoid These Needless Risks

If you think your snoring is really sleep apnea, then give us a call at 541-930-8036, or make your appointment online. We have the sleep apnea machines needed to both diagnose and treat sleep apnea. With a higher risk of heart disease, hypertension, depression, and more, why risk it? Get your sleep apnea treatment today and rest comfortably.