Healthy Living

The Dangers of Ignoring Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The Dangers of Ignoring Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) possesses a high risk for dangerous consequences, and it is caused by a relaxation of the throat muscles that lead to an obstruction of the airway. The most obvious sign is loud snoring, but other symptoms to look for are:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Headache especially in the morning
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awaking
  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of concentration
  • Coughing or choking when waking up

This chronic condition requires frequent monitoring and consistent management. Without proper treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, this disorder can severely jeopardize a person’s well-being by increasing the risks for:

Obstructive sleep apnea, especially when it’s not properly addressed, can lead to the downfall of one’s overall physical health.

Obstructive sleep apnea impedes daily functioning

In fact, the symptoms pose a much higher risk for incidents that seemingly do not relate to obstructive sleep apnea directly but can be associated with the condition. For example, according to a 2016 study of the trucking industry, drivers who have this sleep disorder are “five times more likely” to have preventable accidents if they do not follow through with proper treatment. This means that the natural consequences of obstructive sleep apnea can severely impair the performance of tasks when alertness is of the upmost importance. As one can see from this study, obstructive sleep apnea, when left undiagnosed or untreated, places a person in danger along with others around him or her. So taking care of this medical issue is extremely vital.

Obstructive sleep apnea presents complications during surgery

Aside from affecting reaction time, obstructive sleep apnea presents a challenge for both patient and surgeon. In this situation, it would not be totally unheard of for a physician to inquire about the possibility of sleep apnea, and the reason why is the very cause of the condition itself. As previously mentioned, the throat muscles relaxing to the point of momentarily closing the airway can lead to serious complications during major surgery since the patient is lying on his or her back. So divulging this information or getting checked for obstructive sleep apnea would be prudent before undergoing surgery, especially if a spouse, roommate, or someone who has shared sleeping quarters with the patient has complained about his or her snoring in the past. When taking up the possibility of an obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis shortly before a scheduled surgery, a doctor might order any one or a combination of the following tests and questionnaires:

  • The Berlin Questionnaire
  • The STOP-BANG Questionnaire
  • A physical exam, specifically of neck circumference, nasal passages, and tonsils

In some scenarios, however, the presence of sleep apnea is not discovered until the practitioner attempts to incubate the patient and finds obstructions, or even after surgery when the patient is observed snoring or not breathing.