August 7, 2021
Every morning you wake up with a headache and a sore throat. Throughout the day you feel tired and irritable. Most concerning of all, you occasionally (or often) wake up during the night gasping for air. What’s going on?
If you experience any of the above symptoms, you could be suffering from a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder: sleep apnea. And as long as it goes untreated, you won’t be able to get a good night’s rest—and your health could suffer for it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep-breathing disorder that causes you to stop breathing multiple times during your sleep cycle. These disruptions are called apneas and are caused by the airway being physically blocked, typically by relaxed tissue. Apneas can happen dozens or even hundreds of times a night.
The blockage of the airway is referred to as obstructive sleep apnea. Individuals can also suffer from what’s referred to as central sleep apnea, which happens when the brain fails to signal the body to keep breathing, or the respiratory muscles fail, during rest. A person can suffer from both obstructive and central sleep apnea simultaneously.
Why is Sleep Apnea So Dangerous?
Sleep is a cycle, and it’s during the later stages of sleep that your body has a chance to replenish its energy and repair itself. If sleep apnea keeps waking you up, you won’t spend enough time in these vital stages. As a result, you’ll be excessively drowsy during the day, likely experience uncharacteristic mood swings, and can even suffer from attention difficulties These complications from sleep apnea and sleep deprivation just touch the surface as to why the condition is so dangerous. In fact, sleep apnea is to blame for thousands of deadly car accidents and some of history’s most devastating work failures, such as Chernobyl and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
The sudden drops of oxygen levels in the blood every night can also cause life-threatening issues over time. Your blood pressure will rise, and your cardiovascular system will become strained. Health risks caused by sleep apnea are recurrent heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension
Other possible risks of sleep apnea include developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, liver problems, and the worsening of existing mental health conditions.
How Will I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?
It can be hard to know firsthand if you’re suffering from breathing problems at night, but your partner or a roommate might notice that you’re snoring loudly and periodically gasping for air during the night. There are other symptoms you might experience as well—waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, suffering from morning headaches, insomnia, excessive sleepiness, irritability—but the only way to know for sure is to have a sleep study performed by an expert.
Once you’ve received a diagnosis, you’ll be able to get sleep apnea treatment. This might take the form of an oral appliance that helps keep the airway open or a CPAP machine that pumps a continuous stream of air into your throat.
The most important thing is to get help as soon as possible; the effects of sleep apnea will only get worse the longer they go unaddressed. Seek treatment today so that you can get a good night’s rest tonight!
Ready to take that step? Click here to set your appointment with our team here at Sleep Dallas. You can also give us a call at (844) 409-4657.