While snoring can make it difficult for you or your bedmate to get a goodnight’s sleep, if the cause of your snoring is due to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it’s a sign of a much larger problem. Snoring may seem comical, but your McKinney sleep apnea dentist wants you to know that OSA is a real problem that can have a lasting impact on your long-term health.
Obstructive sleep apnea greatly increases your risk of a variety of serious health issues that include diabetes and high blood pressure. The condition can also cause you to have trouble staying awake and alert at work, school, or even on the road while driving. Fortunately, you can successfully ease or even eliminate some of these issues when you treat sleep apnea.
Here are a few health problems you might face if you suffer from OSA.
High Blood Pressure
If you’re one of the 75 million Americans that already suffers from high blood pressure, sleep apnea can make the problem worse. When you wake up frequently throughout the night, it places additional stress on your body. That stress makes hormone production go into overdrive, which raises your overall blood pressure levels. Additionally, the level of oxygen in your blood drops when you have trouble breathing, which may add to the problem.
Treatment of OSA can make a difference, however. Some patients suffering from high blood pressure who receive treatment for sleep apnea see their blood pressure levels improve. Successfully lowering your blood pressure may allow your doctor to reduce the amount of BP medications you take.
Studies have found that patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea have an increased risk for heart attacks.
The cause may be low oxygen levels or the stress caused by waking up frequently throughout the night. Strokes and atrial fibrillation – a quick, fluttering heartbeat – are also linked to the condition.
Sleep apnea disrupts how the body processes oxygen, which makes it more difficult for your body to control how blood flows in the brain and arteries.
Type 2 Diabetes
Over 80 percent of patients dealing with type 2 diabetes also have sleep apnea. Obesity increases an individual’s risk for both diabetes and OSA. While studies have yet to prove a conclusive cause and effect relationship between type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea, not receiving enough sleep can prevent the body from using insulin properly, which leads to the development of diabetes.
Adding a few extra pounds increases your risk of developing sleep apnea, and the condition also makes it more difficult to lose those unwanted pounds. When you become overweight, you can develop fatty deposits in your neck that make it difficult to properly breathe at night. Conversely, sleep apnea can make your body release more of the hormone, ghrelin, which makes you crave sweets and carbohydrates. And when you’re tired all the time, you might not be able to turn the food you consume into energy as efficiently, which can lead to increased weight gain.
On the positive side, treating your OSA can make you feel better, which in turn can provide you more energy for exercise. This can help you shed those unwanted pounds, which then helps to treat your apnea.
While researchers have yet to prove a link between obstructive sleep apnea and adult asthma, individuals who receive treatment for their OSA may find they suffer from fewer asthma attacks.
Again, while no proof exists that conclusively links acid reflux with OSA, many sleep apnea patients report suffering from heart burn. Treating their apnea seems to help improve heart burn in many patients.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
While all of the health problems linked to sleep apnea can sound frightening, our McKinney sleep apnea dentist can help treat your OSA.
Dr. Lawrence may recommend oral appliance therapy or laser snore therapy to help treat your sleep breathing condition. Call our office today to schedule your free sleep apnea consultation with Dr. Lawrence and start getting the nightly sleep you need.