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Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by one or more pauses in breathing while asleep. Below are 3 ways in which untreated sleep apnea may negatively affect a person’s health:

1. Increase Risk of Developing Diabetes

Image - Testing for DiabetesA study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggested that people with severe sleep apnea had a 30 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. The study also found that people suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnea had a 23 percent increased risk of developing diabetes.

This result makes sense because sleep apnea usually causes less oxygen reaching the cells in the body, less sleep, and an increased heart rate, all of which are associated with the development of diabetes.

The study included more than 8,600 people suffering from this sleep disorder. However, the study had the notable limitation that the possible family history of diabetes of each participant was not taken into account.

2. Increase Risk of Osteoporosis

Image - OsteoporosisA study  published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism compared the medical records of 1,400 people diagnosed with sleep apnea to those of over 20,600 people who did not suffer from sleep apnea. The study suggested that people with sleep apnea are at higher risk to develop the bone-thinning disease: osteoporosis.

The study showed that the participants who suffered from sleep apnea were 2.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis. The risk of osteoporosis increased if the participants were female or elderly.

Sleep apnea is linked with osteoporosis because the sleep disorder deprives the body of oxygen, which can weaken the bones.

3. Increase Risk of Cardiac Death

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggested that people who suffer from sleep apnea are at a higher risk of sudden cardiac death.

Sudden cardiac death happens when a person’s heart suddenly stops beating.

The study followed more than 7,000 men and women over 50 years old who had been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Over the following 15 years, 142 of those participants had sudden cardiac arrest.

The study helped identify three measures that strongly predicted the risk of sudden cardiac death:

  1. Being over 60 years old
  2. Having 20 sleep apnea episodes an hour
  3. Having low blood levels of oxygen

Obesity and heart disease are also risk factors for cardiac death.

4. Increased Risk of Car Accidents

A new study published by the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine about driving and sleep apnea has found that people suffering for obstructive sleep apnea have an increased risk of being involved in car accidents.

The study was performed in Sweden among 1,478 patients with an average age of 53 years old. Most of these patients were male. During the study, the rate of car accidents involving the patients with obstructive sleep apnea was compared with the rate of car accidents from the general population. As a result of the study, it was found that patients with this sleep disorder were approximately 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in a car accident, compared to the general population not suffering from it. This level of risk increased when excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep duration of 5 hours or less, and/or use of sleeping pills were present.

Options for Mitigating any Effects of Little Sleep

The good news? This increased risk can be reduced by approximately 70 percent for patients who use CPAP therapy for 4 hours per night or more.

Obstructive sleep apnea and driving

This is a critical sleep disorder problem correlated with sleepiness and impaired cognitive functions or daily tasks: such as driving. Excessive daytime sleepiness, the use of sleeping pills, insomnia and other sleep disorders could impact and be the cause of traffic accidents.

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by snoring and pauses in breathing while asleep, as well as shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.It can be a dangerous condition that could affect your health and can play a part in the development of other several health problems, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiac death.

CPAP Therapy

Continuous or Constant Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machines are one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for sleep apnea when lifestyle changes or oral appliances prove ineffective. These machines use constant airflow to help keep the airway open during sleep.

This type of therapy is not a cure for sleep apnea, they provide an effective, non-invasive method to treat sleep apnea and it needs to be discussed and approved by a ENT specialist first.

If you find yourself not feeling well rested, even after a good night’s sleep, if you can’t sleep or if you wake yourself up from snoring or breathing problems visit a sleep specialist, like Dr. Pasha, for a proper sleep disorder diagnosis and treatment options.

Dr. Pasha is a board certified specialist and can help you figure out if you suffer from sleep apnea. He is also experienced in treating sleep apnea in various different ways, always keeping in mind what is best for his patients. Some of his treatments for sleep apnea include: breathing machines, surgery, in-office procedures, and dental or oral appliances. Make an appointment with Dr. Pasha today!