You might have noticed an increase in advertisements discussing sleep apnea. Researchers estimate that 26% of adults between 30 to 70 years old have sleep apnea; however, up to 80% of cases aren’t diagnosed. It can be a difficult condition to detect because it occurs while you’re sleeping. Sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing frequently throughout the night, which can have potentially life-threatening complications with no treatment. While many people believe the biggest concern is chronic snoring, you can die from untreated sleep apnea. You don’t have to lose sleep at night worrying about your health. Here are the facts you need to breathe easier.
What is Sleep Apnea?
There are 3 types of sleep apnea, but the most prevalent form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The condition causes frequent breathing disturbances when sleeping from an obstruction in the upper airway, which is caused by the tongue or soft tissues in the back of the mouth collapsing. Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. It’s caused by air vibrations passing over the soft tissues in your throat. While everyone snores occasionally, loud, chronic snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, but that’s not the only complication.
Every time you stop breathing, your body is depleted of oxygen and it interrupts your sleep cycle. This can cause long-term consequences for your physical and mental health.
Life-Threatening Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is associated with many health conditions that are known to shorten life expectancies, like obesity, heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Researchers have connected sleep apnea to imbalances in brain chemistry, respiratory functions, elevated blood pressure, and heart arrhythmia.
Sleep apnea is also connected to sleep deprivation, which can cause your cognitive abilities to decline. You can experience difficulty concentrating and impaired reaction times that can increase your risk of workplace and auto accidents. According to Science Daily, the risk of auto accidents is 2.5 times higher for people with sleep apnea.
While you may not die from sleep apnea directly, it can increase your risk of several medical conditions and daily dangers that can have deadly complications.
Live Longer with Sleep Apnea Therapy
If your physician confirms a sleep apnea diagnosis, you have several options available to prevent interruptions in breathing, including:
- CPAP: A mask is worn over the nose to deliver a gentle stream of air pressure to keep the airway open.
- Oral Appliance: A custom-fit appliance holds the tongue or jaw in a comfortable position to prevent them from collapsing.
With the right treatment, you’ll sleep soundly, knowing you’re taking a proactive approach to support a long and healthy life.
About Dr. Scott Parker
Dr. Parker achieved his dental degree from Loma Linda University and has completed extensive continuing education in many specialties, like sleep medicine. He has advanced training in oral appliance therapy. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or you’re ready to cut ties with your CPAP, contact our office today to request a consultation for an oral appliance.