You may have awoken to the noise of your partner, neighbor, or even your dog snoring. It can be a nuisance, at the least. Sometimes, snoring can lead to significant issues with partners not being able to get enough sleep. But surprisingly, the person snoring is often the victim of a serious condition called sleep apnea. And tragically, sleep apnea sufferers are unaware of what they’re going through! However, left untreated, it can lead to serious problems. But can sleep apnea kill you? How serious is it?
In this post, we’ll talk about what sleep apnea is, what effects it has on your health, and how it can be treated.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea refers to the involuntary cessation of breathing during sleep. Normally, a person can breathe air smoothly into their lungs through their nose and mouth. But as you might be aware, when you drift off into sleep, many muscles in the body relax and lose some of their tone. In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the muscles at the back of the throat can relax and obstruct this smooth flow of air. The airway, therefore, becomes narrowed or even blocked completely.
As a result, snoring is a prime characteristic of OSA. The noise comes from the movement of air, causing vibrations in the narrowed airway. Some people can also suffer from sleep apnea due to large tonsils, adenoids, a narrower palate than usual, or a large tongue. These can also cause obstruction.
Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?
Yes, sleep apnea can be deadly. Essentially, you’re not breathing while you sleep. Sleep apnea sufferers are deprived of oxygen with every apneic episode, and these episodes can occur several dozen to several hundred times a night without them even knowing it.
When the brain and body are deprived of oxygen, particularly when resting and recovering, there can be serious health problems. Symptoms include:
- Memory problems, forgetfulness
- Depression, or increase in depressive symptoms
- Lack of mental clarity
- Daytime sleepiness or drowsiness
- Frequent headaches
- Grumpiness and frustration
- Erectile dysfunction and losing interest in sex
Being sleepy in the daytime can lead to serious risks during driving and operating heavy machinery. Left untreated, long-term sleep apnea can increase the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.
Treatment and Conclusion
Several treatment options are available. Weight loss, while difficult to achieve and maintain, helps immensely with sleep apnea, which is more common in obese patients. However, the use of a continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP device is highly effective. Bilevel machines (BiPAP) may also be available if the prescription recommends it.
Surgery or dental devices can also correct sleep apnea. Surgeons can remove extra tissue at the back of the throat in a procedure known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). If you suffer from sleep apnea due to your jaws not aligning properly, a qualified dentist can recommend a corrective device to keep your jaw aligned and your airway clear during sleep.
Dynamic Dental Solutions is your premier family dentistry option in Baytown, TX. We provide exceptional dental services and care for all patients of all ages. Because of this, we’re proud to be a complete solution to all of your dental concerns. So if you have any questions about your oral health, feel free to give us a call at (281) 837-9090.