Health Issues Associated with Sleep Apnea

When a person has obstructive sleep apnea, it raises their risk for other health issues. Not only can it make driving more dangerous, but it can also raise your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.

High Blood Pressure

If you already have high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea can make it worse. This is because when you awaken often during the night, the body gets stressed. When the body is stressed, the hormone system works overtime. This raises blood pressure levels. Also, with obstructive sleep apnea, the level of oxygen that is in your blood drops, which can also worsen high blood pressure.

A person that has obstructive sleep apnea is also more at risk for a heart attack. Strokes and atrial fibrillation (a fast, fluttering heartbeat) are also linked to obstructive sleep apnea. The condition interrupts your oxygen levels and makes it hard for your brain to control the blood flow through the body.

 

Type 2 Diabetes

80% or more of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes also have obstructive sleep apnea. Because obesity is common with both of these disorders, the risk of having both is greater. Not getting enough sleep nightly can keep your body from using insulin in the proper way, which leads to Type 2 diabetes. If you are overweight or obese, you can have extra fat in the neck area that can block your breathing during the night. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause the body to release the hormone ghrelin, which makes a person crave sweets and carbs. As most people are with obstructive sleep apnea are tired often, this makes it hard to turn the food that is eaten into energy, which then leads to weight gain. Having heartburn or reflux can cause sleep apnea symptoms to worsen. If heartburn is treated, it can improve obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. People with obstructive sleep apnea are also more prone to motor vehicle accidents compared to those who sleep normally through the night. This is due to being tired and having lack of focus. If your doctor suspects that you may have obstructive sleep apnea, he/she will order a sleep study. The study can be done in a sleep lab or even at home. Companies such as VirtuOx are able to provide the equipment so the sleep study can be performed in the comfort of your own home. The machine is mailed back to the company and the results will be available at your doctor’s office, usually in 2-3 days. If the results show that you do in fact have obstructive sleep apnea, you will be prescribed a CPAP machine to use while you are sleeping. This machine provides continuous positive airway pressure to help you breathe during sleep. You will wear a small mask that is attached to a hose and it may take some time to get used to it. There are other treatments available such as mouth appliances and nerve stimulators to help keep airways open.
 
VirtuOx is the leader in home sleep tests and pulse oximetry.
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