Monday, July 29, 2013

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

This article discusses what exactly sleep apnea is and why it is a dangerous condition.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may be unaware of the fact. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder whereby a person suffers from repeated interruptions to their sleep because of breathing difficulties. The patient typically stops breathing for around 10 seconds before the brain is forced to wake up and kick start the breathing process again. Most people with sleep apnea also snore heavily.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Unless your partner has told you that you snore and stop breathing on a regular basis, look out for the following signs of sleep apnea:
  • Sore throat in the morning
  • Feeling very tired when you wake up
  • Waking up repeatedly during the night gasping for air
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Men may suffer from impotence

Snoring is No Joke

Snoring is often considered to be a bit of a joke, but the reality is that excessive snoring and associated sleep apneais no joke whatsoever. It is bad for your health and extremely bad for your close relationships—most people find it very taxing to sleep with a partner who snores heavily and wakes up multiple times per night snorting and gasping for oxygen. Even if you felt romantic when you first went to bed with them, after a few nights of snoring and snorting, the passion will soon be long gone.

Health Problems Caused by Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is linked to a number of serious health problems, including:
  • Weight gain –   Gaining weight can lead to snoring, which in turn can exacerbate sleep apnea. Unfortunately, poor sleep affects the endocrine system and the body is more likely to crave sugary and starchy foods, which leads to weight gain. So it all becomes a vicious circle.
  • Heart disease – People with sleep apnea are much more likely to suffer from heart attacks. This could be as a result of low oxygen levels, but research has also found that some sleep apnea patients have irregular heart rhythms.
  • Strokes – Having sleep apnea puts you at greater risk of suffering from a stroke because oxygen deprivation has an effect on blood flow through the arteries and brain.
  • High blood pressure – Frequent patterns of interrupted sleep can play havoc with the endocrine system, which affects blood pressure. Oxygen deprivation can also cause spikes in blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes – There is no definite link betweensleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, but at least 80% of diabetic patients suffer from sleep apnea.

Other Complications of Sleep Apnea

Aside from the serious health problems listed above, sleep apnea can be hazardous to your wellbeing in a number of other ways. As we have already mentioned, sleep apnea can lead to impotence in men, which is unlikely to be great for your long-term relationships. Excessive tiredness can also contribute to problems at work, or in extreme circumstances, directly cause car accidents if you end up falling asleep whilst driving.
If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea, it is a good idea to make an appointment for a full medical check-up. Ignoring the problem is not likely to make it go away, whereas if you seek treatment, you could be on the way towards obtaining a CPAP breathing machine and seeing a significant improvement in your sleep patterns.
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