Sleep Apnea causes snoring and most people are aware of this. In fact, many other health issues can occur if you suffer from Sleep Apnea. When you stop breathing, the oxygen levels in your body tell your brain that something is wrong.
More than 38 million adults in the United States snore, but the National Sleep Foundation has discovered that not all snoring is the same. Snoring occasionally can be due to bad sleeping positions or congestion, but habitual snoring is another issue all together.
More than 25 percent of people over the age of 50 deal with Sleep Apnea, which is a double-edged sword if you have issues with your heart, are overweight, or deal with high blood pressure.
Sleep Apnea occurs when there is an air passage obstruction during sleep at the back of the throat. This can happen as little as once or twice an hour or as much as once every sixty seconds. The severe stress that can result during every Sleep Apnea disorder can cause a series of ailments including cardiovascular disease. The repetitive sleep disruptions that occur during the night leave those who suffer with serious health problems including stroke, coronary artery disease, and hypertension.
Recent research has indicated that those who deal with Sleep Apnea are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Because the person who has the sleeping disorder stops breathing during an episode it can cause serious heart problems. When the sleep disorder is treated, the risk of a massive heart attack is greatly reduced.
There is also evidence that Sleep Apnea is a contributor when it comes to coronary artery disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who are already dealing with coronary artery disease are more apt to have a massive heart attack while they sleep. The risk of a heart attack is reduced if the person seeks help for Sleep Apnea
Other heart problems that could occur from sleeping disorders include atrial fibrillation and abnormal heart beats. Recent studies indicate that people who are treated for Sleep Apnea notice a dramatic improvement decreasing the severity of heart arrhythmia.
Cardiologists have indicated that moderate to severe Sleep Apnea can actually weaken the heart muscle. This affects the pumping ability, which could lead to heart failure. When Sleep Apnea is treated, it can strengthen the heart muscle reducing the risk of congestive heart failure.
People who have high blood pressure have noticed a dramatic improvement after sleep disorder treatment. Hypertension can be helped for those who suffer from moderate or severe sleep apnea. When you stop breathing during sleep your blood pressure will raise, the oxygen levels in your body will fall and the receptors in your brain will be alerted. The brain will respond by sending signals to your nervous system telling your blood vessels to tighten up, as this will increase the oxygen flow to the brain and the heart. Unfortunately high blood pressure that is caused by Sleep Apnea can affect the person when they are awake as the lower levels of oxygen during sleeping hours will trigger mechanisms that will continue throughout the day, even when breathing normally.
Sleep Apnea can also cause anxiety and mood swings virtually affecting every waking and sleeping moment. Because the sufferer is constantly trying to breathe while sleeping, the patient can become fatigued, overwhelmed, and anxious. Even sex drive has been linked to moderate or severe Sleep Apnea.
Because people who suffer from Sleep Apnea lack energy, it is nearly impossible to lose weight. Because of excessive tiredness, exercise is usually out of the question leading to increased fatigue and weight gain. In a recent Sleep Journal conducted in New York, researchers discovered that hormonal changes occur when those involved in the study were unable to breath during sleep affecting insulin and glucose levels that can cause excessive weight gain. Lack of sleep can also lead to excessive hunger and overeating.
Other problems that can occur with Sleep Apnea include daytime sleepiness, sleep deprivation, concentration problems, and memory loss. If you have a sleep disorder, you could also aggravate restless legs syndrome, asthma, and chronic pain. Driving and operating machinery could be extremely dangerous if you are not treated for Sleep Apnea.
If you are having trouble sleeping, snore excessively or think you may be suffering from Sleep Apnea contact your dentist who may be able to help with your sleep disorder.
Dr. Michael Layton (DDS) is a dentist based in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions for people of every walk of life. You can follow him on Google+.