Sleep Apnea: How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Body?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which the respiratory airways get blocked; the person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more during his sleep. The tongue rolls back into the airway causing the throat muscles to collapse. When the air is cut off, the brain signals you to wake up. It may happen as frequently as 20-30 times every hour.

Your body doesn’t get enough sleep, depriving the brain and heart of constant oxygen flow.  This results in constant tiredness, forgetfulness, poor concentration and depression. Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea are:

  • Loud, frequent and persistent snoring.
  • Frequent pauses in breathing while sleeping.
  • Choking or wheezing for air during sleep accompanied by night sweats.
  • Feeling of restlessness, while sleeping.
  • Frequent early morning headaches.
  • Multiple visits to the bathroom due to frequent urination.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Excessive fatigue during daytime and loss of energy.
  • Poor concentration and forgetfulness.
  • Depression and irritability.

In the majority of cases, sleep apnea goes undetected but poses severe dangers to the body. It a medical disorder and needs immediate treatment. Sleep apnea affects your body in the following ways:

1. Sleep apnea is closely related to heart diseases and high blood pressure

Sleep apnea is characterized by frequent pauses in breathing, which may last up to 10 seconds or more. Repeated pauses in breathing cause the oxygen levels in your blood to drop remarkably.  On sensing this, the nervous system signals the blood vessels to become constricted in order to improve the flow of oxygen to the brain and heart. Constriction of blood vessels increases the blood pressure by 10-20 percent and this rise in blood pressure ensures the constant flow of oxygen to your heart and brain. But an increase in blood pressure increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

2. Gastric reflux or heartburn

In sleep apnea, the airway is blocked and the tongue falls back causing the throat muscles to collapse. As a reflex, the diaphragm is pulled and the chest experiences a negative pressure. The negative pressure is enough to turn the esophagus into a straw and pulls the content of the stomach into the throat. The pulled up acid causes a burning sensation in the throat and the chest.

People suffering from gastric reflux also suffer from daytime gastro-esophagal reflux disease.

3. Impotence

Sleep apnea causes fluctuations in blood pressure and flow. It affects the autonomic nervous system and a compromised flow of blood to the penis causes erectile dysfunction.

4. Type 2 diabetes

Sleep apnea raises blood sugar levels due to increased stress and chronic sleep deprivation. As a result, people with sleep apnea develop a resistance to insulin that breaks down the glucose present in the blood to convert it into energy. Blood sugar level keeps on rising, and you end up developing Type 2 diabetes. It is a chronic ailment which can be controlled but not cured.

5. Feeling tired all the time

A night of good sleep is necessary for the body to refresh itself from the day’s fatigue. Sleep apnea disrupts your sleep by blocking the airway, and you end up gasping for air throughout the night. It harms both the quality and quantity of sleep. Sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness and overwhelming fatigue. You will wake up with morning headaches, lack of energy and difficulty in concentrating.

Daytime sleepiness can cause severe accidents while driving or working with heavy machinery and can lead to death.

6. Depression

Sleep apnea affects your mental health by causing poor concentration, persistent tiredness, depression, anxiety, irritability, and forgetfulness. You are constantly in a bad mood accompanied by feeling sad and episodes of crying.

People with sleeping disorders suffer from psychiatric and neurological disorders. Visit your dentist ASAP to receive treatment.

7. Problems in thinking

Sleep apnea deprives you of a night of good sleep, and you wake up with headaches and fatigue. Good sleep clears the debris, including the neurotransmitter adenosine, present in the pathways of the brain to relieve it from fatigue. The brain experiences fragmented sleep and it affects your thinking ability. Unable to think clearly is known as ‘brain fog.’ This leads to poor concentration, ADHD, ADD, and short term memory loss.

Dr. Saeb has multiple years of experience under her belt and can treat your dental issues with great precision and care. For further queries and inquiries, visit our dental practice or book an appointment with us.

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