Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing while you sleep. Depending on the severity of the disorder, you may stop breathing hundreds of times per night. This prevents the brain and the rest of the body from getting enough oxygen.
The most common form of the disorder is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the airway is blocked because the soft tissue in the throat collapses.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea disturbs your sleep, which can affect your functioning in your day-to-day life. It can cause you to feel tired or confused during the day, and it can hurt your performance at work or school. It can even lead to car crashes or other accidents because it causes poor concentration and slowed reaction times.
Weight gain is a common effect of sleep apnea because tiredness can increase appetite. Weight gain also worsens sleep apnea by increasing pressure on the neck, which can block the airways.
Sleep apnea can lead to other serious health issues, especially with the heart. It can worsen already existing high blood pressure because waking up frequently during the night puts stress on your body, which affects your hormones and blood pressure levels. People with sleep apnea are also more likely to have heart attacks because of the lowered amount of oxygen in the body and the stress of waking up frequently.
Other common health issues that occur with sleep apnea include stroke, diabetes, acid reflux, headaches, and depression.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea can make you feel sluggish, unfocused, and depressed during the day. Smile on Chicago, a center offering sleep apnea treatment in Chicago, warns that when untreated, it can cause serious health issues and put you at risk for accidents or injuries. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available.
The most common treatment is a CPAP machine, which you can place over your nose and mouth. It blows air into the airway, which keeps it open while you sleep. This is very effective and is usually the first treatment doctors recommend.
You can also use dental appliances that position the lower jaw and tongue to keep the airway open. Some people undergo surgery to remove tissue from the upper airway, which helps the airway stay open.
Lifestyle changes can help with sleep apnea as well. If you're overweight, losing weight can cure the condition. You can also try avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, which both put stress on the upper airway. A combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatments is usually the best way to treat sleep apnea and avoid the dangerous health effects.