Sleep apnea awareness is important, not only for how you operate during your daily routine, but the long term effects of failing to treat your sleep apnea effectively can be damaging to your body, heart, and overall health. There are significant health problems that are associated with sleep apnea, and when left untreated, even death is possible. We recently blogged
about Reggie White’s widows fight for increasing awareness of sleep apnea, as the potential to lose a loved one is there. Look for signs from your partner, parents, friends, or siblings, whether its snoring, constantly being tired in the morning, or frequent wake ups in the middle of the night. You can find our blog
on five signs that you might have sleep apnea here, and if you believe that you are potentially suffering, we strongly recommend that you have a sleep study done.
While most patients might believe that sleep apnea is only affecting their energy levels and ability to perform at their peak in their jobs or at school, there is a darker side to sleep apnea that can lead to more significant illnesses as time passes. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which is most commonly treated by using a CPAP machine. While people may believe that sleep apnea only effects males who are overweight, females and those in great shape can also suffer. Don’t think just because you’re in peak shape and active that you can’t contract sleep apnea, as any individual can be affected.
We mentioned that there are more severe side effects to those suffering from sleep apnea than the standard of being tired throughout the day and sleeping less at night. Medical professionals have linked three very serious medical conditions to sleep apnea. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes are all potential side effects, and all three carry much higher risks than lack of sleep.
High blood pressure can be caused by frequent night time awakenings. As people wake up
throughout the night, their hormone systems go into “overdrive” which can cause blood pressure to rise. A lot of patients suffering from sleep apnea can also have low blood oxygen levels which can lead to hypertension. Using a CPAP machine
to treat your sleep apnea will allow you to rest peacefully throughout the night, as the machine will regulate your pressure and ensure that your throat will not collapse. Ensuring that you sleep throughout the whole night can help regulate your blood pressure.
Higher blood pressure is not the only medical concern of sleep apnea patients, as there are increased risks for heart disease and heart attacks from those suffering. Those who have obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form, are at an increased risk of suffering a heart attack while they are sleeping, and we have seen cases of death with well-known individuals such as Reggie White. Low oxygen while sleeping, or the stress of waking up regularly throughout the night are the leading causes. We know that heart disease can lead to increased likelihood of things such as strokes and going into AFib. All three are serious conditions that are greatly increase from failing to treat your sleep apnea safely and effectively.
The third very serious condition that we talked about is type 2 diabetes, and there are studies out there that nearly 80 percent of those with type 2 diabetes have some form of OSA. Both diabetes and sleep apnea are common in those who are struggling with their weight. While studies are inconclusive, failing to get enough sleep can cause resistance to insulin, which is a direct result of diabetes.
Those are three of the more serious conditions that are related to sleep apnea, but there are several other potentially harmful side effects that can be caused by failing to treat the condition. We’ve talked extensively about a lack of energy and always being tired, we can have a direct result on your ability to perform at work, at school, or doing other standard day time activities, causing you be less of a performer than those around you. Lack of sleep can have a significant effect on your ability to drive a car, leading to an increased chance of a car wreck, but it can also cause things such as weight gain and asthma in adults.
Getting treated for sleep apnea is very serious, as some numbers believe that as many as 80 percent of patients are still un or underdiagnosed for the disease. While there are options out there for everybody, whether its surgery on the jaw or throat, or working to lose weight and get in better shape, CPAP is still the most effective, reliable, and used “medication” (I use that term lightly because it’s not really a medication, or maybe it is) out there. The steps to diagnosing and treating sleep apnea with CPAP can be found on our blog, but to sum it up, see a medical professional and get yourself tested if you believe that you or someone you care about is suffering. Look for signs such as snoring and being constantly tired, and start working today to improve your overall health, as we continue to fight the good fight against sleep apnea, and have less Reggie White’s amongst all of us. Whether its heart disease that can lead to a heart attack, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure, we have the ability to put an end to untimely death and improve health by ensuring that those we love get tested and get the proper treatment.