It's Not Just Snoring: The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

snoring

If you think sleep apnea is just about snoring, there’s much more you should know. Although snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, it is one of the lesser concerns. More seriously, sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing over and over again throughout the night for as much as 10 seconds at a time. 

Sleep apnea is generally rated mild to severe depending on how many periods of apnea occur in one hour:

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of the condition. It occurs when your throat muscles and soft tissues collapse during sleep and block your airway. 

Our sleep experts at the Sleep Cycle Center in Austin and Lakeway, Texas, perform advanced testing and treatment for sleep apnea. We help you get the rest you need while improving many factors that contribute to overall good health. 

How does sleep apnea endanger my health? 

Snoring is indeed a symptom of sleep apnea, and it can interfere with the quantity and quality of sleep you get. But the more serious dangers affect your vascular and neurological health. Here’s a brief overview of how sleep apnea endangers your overall health

High blood pressure and heart disease

Sleep apnea restricts your breathing, which causes your oxygen levels to plunge. This triggers additional blood flow to keep up healthy oxygen levels. The constantly higher blood flow increases pressure on the walls of your blood vessels. 

High blood pressure is known as “the silent killer” because of its lack of obvious symptoms. Untreated high blood pressure causes significant damage to your blood vessels, heart, and other organs, such as your kidneys and even your eyes. 

High blood pressure is a key factor for heart disease, which is a leading cause of death. 

Stroke

Sleep apnea can both occur as a result of a stroke and can trigger a stroke. The low oxygen levels from apnea deprive the brain of the oxygen it needs. Left untreated, even moderate sleep apnea increases your risk of stroke by three times

As the condition persists, increased stress and blood pressure can cause irregular heart rates. All of these factors are key risks for strokes. 

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea often go hand in hand because many people with both conditions are overweight or even obese. 

When apnea occurs during sleep, your body releases stored glucose as a response to stress. This extra glucose weakens your body’s ability over time to control healthy glucose levels. Even without obesity, sleep apnea may increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes. 

Impaired brain function

Sleep apnea can be connected to mild cognitive impairment, which is a decrease in your decision-making, thinking, and memory abilities. Constant sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness and delayed reactions. 

As the condition persists and grows worse without treatment, you may begin to notice a lack of concentration and slower motor skills. 

How do I know if I have sleep apnea? 

While trouble sleeping, drowsy daytime hours, irritability, snoring, headaches, and other symptoms are common, the only real way to know if you have sleep apnea is through professional testing. 

At Sleep Cycle Center, we offer a sleep apnea screener, which is a fast, free way to analyze your habits and symptoms to see if you may have sleep apnea. It takes less than 5 minutes to complete and is over 90% reliable. 

We score and evaluate your screening, and if we determine you likely have sleep apnea, we can perform a more structured, advanced sleep test. Treatments are available to help you restore healthy sleep and reduce risks to your health. Contact our office in Austin or Lakeway, Texas, to learn more.

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