Many people choose to disregard sleep apnea, thinking it’s just about snoring. Unfortunately, snoring is just a symptom; it only mirrors the irregularities happening inside the body during an episode of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, which is characterized by breath pauses usually lasting for a few seconds to minutes, is foremost a sleep disorder that requires proper attention.
If ignored, it can result in a number of problems, many of which are too serious they may not look like they have been caused by a seemingly simple sleep disorder. But the truth is, sleep apnea is not as simple as people think. On regular occasions, it can be troubling, but in some instances, it can be life-threatening. Not knowing the dangers of sleep apnea can place a person at a heightened risk, so it pays to be aware of them.
There are two main effects of sleep apnea, both of which may result in dangerous conditions and events.
1. Poor quality of sleep.
People with sleep apnea have shallow sleep and experience frequent waking. They are therefore deprived of the therapeutic and restful sleep the body needs to restore the lost energy and refresh the mind. The following morning, they wake up feeling tired, annoyed, and restless.
The sleep disturbance caused by sleep apnea also often leads to excessive daytime sleepiness. Some may fall asleep while doing their regular routines like eating or talking. However, it can be dangerous if they are caught driving. Researches have tallied a number of car crashes among people with sleep apnea, confirming they are more prone to car accidents than other drivers and motorists.
Lack of concentration, which normally results in poor performance at work and in school, is also observed from people with sleep apnea. They may also have memory and learning difficulties.
People with sleep apnea may as well experience psychological problems such as anxiety, irritability, mood and behavior changes, and depression. Gain weight may also be apparent since lack of sleep essentially boosts the appetite.
2. Oxygen deprivation.
Many people are unaware that sleep apnea interrupts a body function as important as oxygen saturation. Oxygen is vital in the body and when absent, it creates a strain in the cardiovascular system. This happens because as oxygen level drops due to breath pauses, the cardiovascular system, which is responsible in delivering oxygen through the blood, tends to work harder. The effect of which is high blood pressure, a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack.
In fact, studies showed that people with sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems, especially those with untreated sleep apnea. Another study said that sudden death due to irregular heart rhythm during sleeping hours is more likely to happen among people with sleep apnea. Such death usually occurs in waking hours among people without the sleep disorder.
There are two sure ways to counter the dangers of sleep apnea—having oneself checked and treated. As it seems, this sleep disorder is more damaging and serious than what others seem to think. It can make everyday life a little troubling and, worse, can claim life in the most subtle ways.
With sleep apnea, there is no room for taking chances. So if you think your body shows sign of the sleep disorder, see a sleep specialist at once and undergo treatments.