6 Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea

man with sleep apneaAmerica is a sleep deprived country. But some of us are exhausted no matter how much sleep we get. In fact, more than 20 million Americans are estimated to have sleep apnea, a condition that leads to tiredness and sleepiness even after 8 hours of sleep.

What is more concerning is that only a fraction of those with sleep apnea have been diagnosed and treated. Discover the signs of sleep apnea and the serious health complications that can result from untreated sleep apnea.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Feeling exhausted even after a full night of sleep
  • Periodically waking up with a choking or gasping sensation. Some people with sleep apnea are not aware they are waking up in the night.
  • Forgetfulness and mood changes
The 6 Health Risks

Those with sleep apnea stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. This means your brain and body are not getting enough oxygen, and the total number of hours you sleep is reduced. These factors can lead to serious consequences, including:

  1. Heart Attack – Studies show that sleep apnea or regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep a night can lead to heart disease and greatly increases your risk of a heart attack.
  2. High Blood Pressure and Stroke – When sleep apnea is treated, blood pressure is lowered and this leads to substantial reduction in stroke risk according to researchers.
  3. Diabetes – Doctors believe lack of sleep could lead to a pre-diabetic state. The body’s reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
  4. Depression – Sleep apnea is also linked with depression. A recent study of 18,980 people in Europe showed that people with depression were five times more likely to suffer from sleep-disordered breathing.
  5. Headaches – Not getting enough sleep can trigger migraine headaches. Studies show a lack of REM sleep can increase the secretion of proteins that trigger pain.
  6. Injury from a Vehicle Wreck – Patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea perform as poorly as drunk drivers and have up to a 15-fold increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.
Treatment Can Reduce Risks

The good news is all of these risks can be reduced with treatment for sleep apnea. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or quitting smoking. One of the most common treatments for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine, which helps patients breathe normally during sleep.

See A Sleep Specialist

If you think you may have sleep apnea, consult with a sleep specialist. LeBauer HealthCare has pulmonologists who are specially trained in sleep medicine. Our team is able to conduct in-home sleep tests, diagnose sleep disorders, and provide the best treatment for each individual.

Schedule your appointment with a pulmonologist online today, or contact the LeBauer Pulmonary office in Greensboro at 336-547-1801.

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