Are you living with sleep apnea? Maybe you’re unaware of your symptoms, or maybe you think your condition isn’t that bad. The truth is that while millions of Americans are struggling to get the sleep they need as a result of snoring or an obstruction in the airway, a lack of treatment can result in serious consequences. If you’re wondering whether untreated sleep apnea can be fatal, a local sleep expert is here to explain.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that causes an individual to experience episodes of ceased breathing while attempting to rest. There are various types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When a person falls asleep, the soft tissues of the mouth and throat can begin to relax, eventually collapsing on the airway and preventing oxygen from flowing freely. This causes the body to send signals to the brain to wake up. A person will then wake suddenly, often gasping for air. Because this can happen once or one hundred times each night, treatment is essential to ensure optimal mental, physical, and emotional health for the future.
Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Many patients living with sleep apnea do not realize they have a problem, or they do not think it’s serious enough to seek professional help. However, if left untreated, sleep apnea can have devastating consequences. Some of the most common include:
- Drowsiness while driving
- Heart attacks
- Premature death
When it comes to fatalities from sleep apnea, it is the long-term complications that can lead to possible death. When drowsy because of a lack of sleep, you put yourself and others in danger when attempting to drive. Also, because your blood pressure rapidly rises and falls over and over throughout the night due to apnea episodes, your risks of a heart attack or stroke dramatically increase.
Individuals who are unaware that they have sleep apnea may wonder what signs to look for to avoid these potentially dangerous results. If you are worried that your lack of sleep is caused by sleep apnea, look for these symptoms and call a professional right away:
- Loud snoring
- Memory loss
- Low libido
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat
- Chronic fatigue
- Teeth grinding/clenching
- High blood pressure
How a Sleep Expert Can Help
Seeking the help of a sleep expert is one of the best decisions you can make. Why? Because they can diagnose and treat the problem using safe and effective methods, such as customized oral appliances. While severe cases of sleep apnea may require surgical intervention, most patients can benefit from CPAP therapy or oral appliance therapy. By wearing a uniquely made device at night, your airway will remain open, preventing the collapse of any soft oral tissues.
Over time, you will notice a dramatic improvement in your sleep patterns as well as your overall health and well-being.
Don’t disregard your symptoms should you discover you have sleep apnea. Get the help you need right away and start living a healthier, more fulfilling life.
About the Author
Do you suffer from sleep apnea? Dr. Shelley Shults is a board-certified registered nurse, general dentist, family nurse practitioner, and dental sleep medicine practitioner who wants to help. Leading a team of professionals at Powell Dental Sleep Solutions, she uses advanced technology and treatments to help patients get the rest they need while embracing life to its fullest. If you want to sleep better, contact us at (614) 396-9310.