Healthy Living

How Sleep Apnea Can Negatively Impact a Patient's Health

How Sleep Apnea Can Negatively Impact a Patient's Health

Sleep is an integral part of maintaining good health. Unfortunately, achieving a healthy amount of sleep can be difficult for some people. Instead, they find that their sleep is often interrupted by restlessness, snoring and other issues that lead to chronic exhaustion and a bad case of mid-day sleepiness. This is because people who are not sleeping well are quickly becoming the norm, especially since sleep disorders are becoming much more popular. One sleep disorder that is growing more popular is obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can be a scary condition as a patient momentarily stops breathing when they're asleep. While there are few different forms of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common. This is typically when a person’s airways are blocked due to a physical obstruction from either the tongue falling back or the soft palate collapsing while they're asleep.

Sleep apnea is often mistaken for general snoring or restless sleep, in fact, those who snore have a much higher chance of being diagnosed with the disorder.  Essentially, a person who appears to be in a deep sleep will be jolted awake due to a lack of oxygen. Those with sleep apnea would often wake up suddenly while making a choking sound, and episodes can also happen at any time during someone's slumber and those with more severe cases can experience as many as 30 episodes in one single hour.

These episodes will prevent a person from falling into a deep sleep or the REM stage of slumber. This is when the body is truly at rest. Without the right amount of REM sleep, a person is for sleep deprived and is at a higher risk for making errors, having accidents and developing other health issues.

The numbers are really staggering as sleep apnea affects millions of people in the US and over 100 million people around the world.  Because snoring and other symptoms of sleep apnea are often ignored or unnoticed, it often goes undiagnosed.  As much as 90% of the time, people with sleep apnea and their bedmates will chalk-up poor sleep as being a normal part of their lives rather than a serious problem. Ignoring sleep apnea symptoms, however, opens the door to a number of risk factors, some more dangerous than others. 

There are many risk factors that play a big role in determining who will develop sleep apnea, and while some people are just unlucky and develop it just because, others' lifestyle and health habits are partly to blame. For example, middle-aged males who are obese and smoke have a much greater chance of developing sleep apnea than a fit, twenty-something female runner.

Read on to learn more about how sleep apnea negatively affects a patient's health.