Be Warned Of The Consequences Of Sleep Apnea
The consequences of sleep apnea on your life and livelihood can be devastating. Side effects such as reduced mental acuity or inattentiveness can have serious consequences on your life or the lives of others if you put yourself in their path and the situation becomes dangerous, such as putting yourself behind the wheel of a car and then falling asleep at that same steering wheel.
Sleep apnea affects approximately 18 million people and causes a variety of problems, including the two listed above and, most seriously, death. If you have sleep apnea and are aware of it, you should seek treatment from your doctor and/or dentist. If you have sleep apnea and are unaware of it, you should get diagnosed as soon as possible so that you can begin treatment.
So, how do you know what the effects of sleep apnea are? In other words, what are the signs and symptoms?
Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing for at least ten seconds while sleeping and can happen up to 30 times per hour. The time you stop breathing can be even longer, possibly up to a minute. Consider this: if you stop breathing for a full minute 30 times per hour, you’re in big trouble. Your blood oxygen level drops, and in severe cases, you may go into respiratory arrest and turn blue, or become cyanotic.
When you stop breathing, your brain sends you a signal to wake up so you can resume breathing normally. You may not fully awaken, but if you are not in the REM sleep cycle, you are not getting enough sleep and will wake up tired. Sometimes you’re even more tired than when you went to bed. Sleep apnea forces you to work extremely hard for the little sleep you do get.
The reason you stop breathing while sleeping is what distinguishes sleep apnea. The type of sleep apnea we’ve been discussing is called obstructive sleep apnea, and it occurs when your tongue and neck muscles relax to the point where they block your airway while you’re sleeping.
Central sleep apnea is another type of sleep apnea that occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles responsible for breathing to initiate a breath. Central sleep apnea causes you to wake up suddenly, and it may be accompanied by shortness of breath, night sweats, or both. This type of sleep apnea is especially frightening and may make you afraid to sleep at all. This only exacerbates the situation.
As previously stated, the effects of sleep apnea on your life can be devastating. Because of the extra work required to get and keep enough oxygen circulating through your body, you will have an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Treatment is critical and may include a surgical procedure to remove whatever is causing the blockage or the use of a machine and mask to continuously force air into your airway throughout the night.