Obstructive sleep apnea is more than a disturbing nuisance. Since it prevents the sufferer from getting uninterrupted periods of deep sleep, it starts a cascade of health-impacting responses that contribute to some of the most serious chronic conditions people face, such as fatigue, diabetes, and heart disease.
Snoring is a common symptom of the condition, and while it’s possible to snore without having sleep apnea, the reverse is rarely true. That’s why snoring specialists are your best choice when you seek help for your sleep apnea. In Sheridan, Wyoming, that means Dr. Scott N. Bateman and the team at Sheridan Ear, Nose and Throat. Treatment now can help you avoid these serious health complications in the future.
The connection to snoring
Sleep apnea typically features loud snoring as a symptom, since the root of the problem is the collapse of tissue in the throat that impedes air passage. This partial collapse is natural, but it only develops into sleep apnea when airflow is restricted to the point where breathing stops.
Your brain won’t let your body suffocate due to this breathing interruption. Instead, it sends signals that rouse you from the deepest stages of sleep just enough to allow you to change position and resume breathing. You may not even wake enough to know this cycle occurred, yet it can and will repeat itself many times every night.
The effects of these sleep interruptions are many. You might notice that you wake with a dry mouth and irritated throat. And despite what should have been an adequate time for restful sleep, you may wake feeling drowsy, and this could follow you throughout the day.
Complications of sleep apnea
The side effects of poor sleep are obvious when daytime tiredness becomes chronic. You’re less alert and more easily confused or inattentive. This can be dangerous, depending on your job or activities. However, there are more complex complications associated with sleep apnea, affecting specific areas of your health.
Breathing stoppages create drops in blood oxygen, which in turn strains the circulatory system by raising your blood pressure to increase oxygen supply. Sleep apnea also raises your risk of heart issues such as:
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeats)
- Heart attack
If you already have heart disease, repeated cycles of low blood oxygen put you at risk of fatal episodes of fibrillation.
Type 2 diabetes
A number of studies have shown an association between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetics develop a condition called insulin resistance, where the body can’t process sugar from food and deliver it to the tissues. This leads to elevated blood sugar, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
You may be prone to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as a result of sleep apnea. This leads to scarring of the liver and poor liver function.
These are only a few of the problems you may experience because of the effects of sleep apnea. Contact Sheridan Ear, Nose and Throat by phone at 307-672-0290, or online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bateman. The sooner you begin treatment, the less likely you’ll be to suffer consequences.