Complications of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Snoring is harmless unless it’s keeping you and your partner from getting a full night of restful sleep. If you snore, choke at night, or have symptoms like insomnia, you may be dealing with sleep apnea.

Dr. William M. Schneider in Walnut Creek, California, has worked with men and women struggling with sleep apnea for two decades. His expertise ensures you’ll find a quick and effective treatment so that you can start getting a good night’s rest as soon as possible.

So, is your snoring harmless — or should you get it checked out?

What is sleep apnea?

Having sleep apnea means that you repeatedly stop breathing for a brief time as you sleep. The dropouts last longer than 10 seconds and occur 10 or more times per hour of rest. There are physical wake-up reactions in which you take a strong breath, often explosively.

Most of those affected snore and don’t even notice the pauses in breathing and wake-up reactions. However, sleep apnea disturbs sleep significantly.

Many sleep apnea sufferers have headaches in the morning and feel exhausted. Most of them are tired throughout the day, tend to fall asleep unintentionally, and have trouble concentrating. Remembering things becomes increasingly difficult. 

In the long term, sleep apnea increases your risk for many health issues — for example, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

Signs of sleep apnea

It’s possible you don’t know why you feel tired all the time. Is it sleep apnea or something else? Signs that you have sleep apnea include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Snoring
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Snorting or choking during sleep

If this sounds like you, let Dr. Schneider check it out. Ignoring the signs of sleep apnea is more than just bad for your sleep — it’s bad for your health.

Why is untreated sleep apnea dangerous?

When your breathing at night stops more often and for a longer period, the oxygen level in your blood drops. This undersupply occurs everywhere in the body, causing cells to die off quickly, especially in the brain. 

The heart tries to make up for the lack of oxygen by pumping blood to the body even faster. That speed puts a strain on the heart muscle, and your blood pressure rises. 

The whole cardiovascular system suffers from the stress caused by the pauses in breathing and the increased strain on the body.

Sleep apnea hurts your quality of life and increases the risk of death. The risk is higher for men than for women. The consequences and complications that experts associate with untreated sleep apnea syndrome include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Worsening ADHD symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Diabetes
  • Eye problems
  • Sleep-deprived partners

The good news is that sleep apnea can be treated effectively.

How is sleep apnea treated?

CPAP therapy is the gold standard in the treatment of sleep apnea. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, involves wearing a mask while you sleep. Depending on the model, the mask encloses the mouth and nose or just the nose. 

With CPAP, ambient air is pumped into the airways with a slight excess pressure during sleep. A small pump, which is connected to the mask via a hose, provides the pressure. The incoming air keeps the upper airways open. 

This significantly reduces the number of pauses in breathing, increases the oxygen content in the blood, and improves sleep quality. Most of the time, snoring also stops.

If snoring keeps you or your partner up at night, it’s time to consider a sleep apnea consultation. Call Dr. Schneider today at 925-935-2700 or book your appointment using our convenient online scheduling tool

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