What Happens with Untreated Sleep Apnea?
Enjoying good quality sleep is one of the necessary pleasures of life. For you to be productive and proficient in your daily life, you much check how well you sleep. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to enjoy good quality sleep the minute they get to bed.
Sleeping disorders like sleep apnea have become the reason for many people to lead miserable lives. The worst thing is that the condition can have fatal health problems if left untreated.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
It is a sleeping disorder that causes breathlessness when you sleep. Ideally, patients with sleep apnea cannot properly fall asleep because they run out of breath repeatedly at night. The disease often happens when there is an obstruction in your airways that prevents the proper breathability.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
One thing you must know about this condition is that it can happen in two different ways. One concerns the miscommunication, or lack thereof, of the brain and your throat muscles regarding contraction. This type is called central sleep apnea. On the other hand, the most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. There can be many reasons why your airways are constantly obstructed when you sleep. They include:
- Excessive weight – when you are overweight or obese, the fat tissues in your body layer your blood vessels. They may then constrict them so that you have a hard time breathing at night.
- Excessive usage of alcohol – it can make breathing difficult because it promotes the relaxation of your throat muscles.
- Smoking – when you smoke, it increases the inflammation in the upper airway, as well as promotes excessive fluid retention in this area.
- Nasal congestion – it could be due to a cold or an allergic reaction. Whoever the case, when you can’t breathe properly through the nose, you are likely to have sleep apnea.
- Underlying health issues – ranging from hypertension to congestive heart failure and diabetes.
What Happens If You Don’t Seek Treatment?
Sleep apnea treatment can only be offered to you if you seek help from a sleep specialist or even a dentist. Unless you do, the symptoms that are associated with sleep apnea will manifest significantly, even progressing into more severe health problems. Some of the things that can happen should you leave your sleeping disorder untreated are:
- Insomnia – is another sleeping disorder that translates to the difficulty of staying asleep. Some people are completely deprived of sleep because of sleep apnea that manifests as insomnia.
- Hypersomnia – is another sleeping disorder, which translates to excessive sleepiness during the day. Since you are not getting a good quantity and quality of sleep at night, you may feel sleepier at night. This may not bother you at much at first, but if the sleepiness is excessive, it can deteriorate your quality of life.
- Strokes – these are health problems that occur when your brain does not get enough supply of oxygen at any given point. Ideally, the longer you go without breathing because of sleep apnea, the more risk you pose to your brain. If oxygen is insufficient in your brain, a stroke can occur.
- Forgetfulness and difficulties in concentration – being alert is important in both social and work lives. If you have sleep apnea, it can be difficult for you to stay alert and remember things because of a lack of quality sleep. This can significantly affect your life.
- Irritability and daytime fatigue – this complication is an aftermath of sleep deprivation, which is to be expected with severe sleep apnea.
- High blood pressure and heart problems – your body systems largely depend on oxygen to keep functioning optimally. The sudden decrease in the supply of oxygen at night will affect your body. The multiple events of low blood oxygen levels are termed as hypoxia or hypoxemia. These can make your heart condition deteriorate, which may eventually lead to congestive heart disease.
- Liver problems – your liver tests will not come up with positive results. Instead, with sleep apnea, you are highly likely to have scarring in your liver, a medical condition also known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.