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Five Ways Sleep Apnea Can Damage Your Health

sleep apnea

At SleepRight McKinney, we understand the importance of a goodnight’s sleep. Getting the rest you need at night helps to set you up for success the next day. But if obstructive sleep apnea prevents you from getting the rest you require, it not only seriously impacts your ability to function at your best it can also increase your risk for a number of serious health problems.

Obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk for other health issues, such as diabetes and hypertension. The daytime drowsiness the condition causes can even place you at greater risk while driving. Fortunately, by treating sleep apnea, you can reduce your risk for these types of chronic health problems, while also improving the quality of your nightly rest.

Here are a few of the most serious health problems studies have found linked to sleep apnea.

High Blood Pressure

Not only can sleep apnea increase your risk for developing high blood pressure, it can also make the condition worse in patients already suffering from hypertension. When you wake up in the middle of the night, your body gets stressed. This increased stress level makes your hormones go into overdrive, which further boosts your blood pressure levels. Additionally, the level of oxygen in your blood drops when apnea causes your breathing to slow, which only further complicates the problem.

Treatment of sleep apnea can make a huge difference in patients with high blood pressure. Some patients who receive treatment for their apnea notice a drop in their blood pressure, enabling their doctors to reduce their BP medications.

Heart Disease

Studies have shown that individuals dealing with obstructive sleep apnea have a higher risk for heart attack.

Researchers believe that low oxygen levels and increased stress incurred by waking so frequently at night places additional strain on the heart. Strokes and atrial fibrillation – a fast, fluttering heartbeat – have also been linked to the condition.

Sleep apnea causes a disruption in how your body receives oxygen while asleep. A reduction in oxygen makes it more difficult for the brain to control how blood flow into the arteries and the even the brain itself.

Type 2 Diabetes

More than 80 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes also have sleep apnea. The common link? Obesity.

Obesity increases an individual’s risk for both disorders. While studies have yet to establish a clear cause and effect that links these two seemingly disparate conditions, not getting enough sleep at night can prevent the body from properly using insulin, which leads to the development of diabetes.

Acid Reflux

While no clinical evidence exists that supports this connection, a vast majority of apnea patients complain of frequent heartburn. Treating reflux symptoms seems to improve apnea symptoms for some patients, and treating apnea helps deal with some of the symptom of reflux, say sleep doctors.

Excess Weight Gain

Adding a few unwanted pounds increased your risk of developing sleep apnea. Additionally, patients with sleep apnea have a harder time losing weight. When you become overweight, you can develop fatty deposit in your neck that can block your airway at night.

Compounding the problem, apnea can make the body release more of the hormone ghrelin, which makes an individual crave carbs and sweets. Frequently feeling tired makes it more difficult makes it harder to turn down high calories, low nutrition foods, which also leads to weight gain.

Fortunately, receiving treatment for apnea can make it easier for patients to lose weight. By receiving better and more consistent rest, you’ll have more energy for exercise and the mental energy to say no to tempting treats.

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