Sleep apnea treatment is vital for both the short term and long term health of individuals suffering from this dangerous sleeping disorder. Without treatment you’re essentially gambling with your life. This dangerous disorder has significant health risks all apnea patients should be aware of.
Mark Levy DDS is constantly fighting to bring awareness and treatment to individuals battling sleeping disorders. Many people don’t realize just how serious this condition is. The impact on your body goes beyond a poor night’s rest. CNN reports:
Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing while sleeping, for 10 seconds to a minute or longer. This can happen repeatedly during the night, causing blood-oxygen levels to dip and putting a strain on the heart.
Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, is caused by the upper throat muscles relaxing, which makes the airway narrow and close. Another type is central sleep apnea, where the brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing. Complex sleep apnea, the third type, is when a person has both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
It’s imperative that everyone suffering from this sleep disorder seeks treatment. Nearly 20 million Americans are affected by these types of disorders. It’s much more common than anyone realizes. While it’s normal to have some pauses in breathing during sleep, when it happens more than five times every hour it is considered to be a sleeping disorder.
Even individuals on the moderate side of the sleep disorder spectrum should seek treatment. The cessation of breathing causes stress on nearly every system in the body. Lower levels of oxygen affect the heart, brain, and other organs. Over time, without treatment, this leads to increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, and other concerns.
Anyone is capable of developing one of these sleep disorders, though there are certain things factors that increase your risk. Even celebrities suffer from this horrendous and dangerous condition. It is believed that sleep apnea played a part in the death of Carrie Fisher.
Fisher’s autopsy report said she had a history of sleep apnea. According to the coroner, she had episodes while sleeping on a plane ride from London to Los Angeles in December and then went into cardiac arrest. Four days later, she died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center at the age of 60.
Her official cause of death was “sleep apnea and other undetermined factors.” Some of her other health concerns may have been a result of suffering from this sleeping disorder.
There are certain factors that increase the likelihood you may develop a sleep disorder. Individuals with a family history of the disorder, as well as those who are overweight are the most susceptible. You can also increase your odds or even worsen the condition by using alcohol or other drugs including sedatives, opioids, and narcotics. This is because these specific substances relax the muscles in the upper airway, causing your airway to narrow. If you already have a restricted airway or suffer from a sleep disorder then this could cause or amplify your symptoms.
The drugs and alcohol can also reduce your brain’s ability to wake and restart your breathing cycle. This is a normal occurrence in individuals who have sleeping disorders. They may not specifically recall waking up, but the brief break in sleep is what reopens the airway. This is why it’s so dangerous for people with this sleeping disorder to consume drugs or alcohol prior to sleep. Not only do they increase the chance that you may stop breathing, they also decrease the chance you’ll be able to wake up.
Scientific studies show that individuals with sleep apnea are more likely to die in their sleep at night or in the early morning. They’re also more likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest. The increased mortality rate typically becomes more evident about 15 years after diagnosis. It’s much more common to die due to the consequences of the sleep disorder, than the disorder itself.
The good news is that sleep disorders associated with apneas are easily treated. The benefits of treatment are often seen right away, and the consequences of the disorder are often reversed. Just because you have an apnea disorder doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer the consequences. Seek treatment and get back on the track to a healthy lifestyle.
If you have symptoms including loud snoring, waking with a dry mouth or throat, waking with a headache, not being able to stay asleep, waking suddenly short of breath, excessive tiredness during the day, or difficulty with memory and focus then set up an appointment with your health care provider. They’ll evaluate your symptoms and recommend further testing if they suspect a sleep disorder.
In many cases, your doctor will refer you to a sleep specialist. They will conduct an overnight polysomnography, or sleep test in a sleep center or send you home with a take-home test. After receiving your diagnosis you can work with your doctor to develop a plan and start treatment.
One of the most common methods for treating sleep apnea is with a continuous positive airway pressure machine. This is known as a CPAP. These machines provide a direct current of air through your airway to keep it open. Unfortunately, many patients don’t tolerate this treatment option well which leaves them to seek other methods. A popular alternative is the use of oral appliances. An exprienced and qualified dentist can customize a device just for you.
The most important thing is that you seek a diagnosis and sleep apnea treatment for your long term health.
“Patients with sleep apnea may have this disease for many, many years, and no one event, or no one night, puts them at risk,” Rosen said. “It is the accumulation of sleep disorder breathing, and the consequences that go with it, night after night, after a long period of time, that puts people at risk. That’s why treatment is so important.”