Healthy Living

Complications of Sleep Apnea

Complications of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax, blocking your airway during sleep. An obvious indication of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring. The chronic condition interrupts breathing when you sleep. There are terrible impacts that sleep apnea has on your daily life and well-being. One of the many effects includes heart attack.

Sexual dysfunction

Did you know that many effects of sleep apnea are well documented with the exception of sexual dysfunction? A man’s testosterone levels peak at night. Sleep deprivation can cause testosterone levels to plummet. You can say that again. The erections become poor and libido decreases. Ever wondered why men who suffer sleep apnea get fatigued and stressed? They don’t get enough oxygen. Get it? The storyline is not different in women too who lose libido with a lack of sleep.


Asthma medications may not be effective if you have a sleep apnea condition. Treating the apnea event helps control asthma.

Metabolic syndrome

Sleep is important to your metabolic health. Metabolic syndrome is associated with daytime sleepiness. The following conditions may be associated with metabolic syndrome:

  • Increased waist circumference
  • Increase in blood pressure

Memory issues

Waking up multiple times at night leads to fragmented and poor quality sleep. The brain contains some toxic protein type known as amyloid-beta. The brain tries to remove such harmful toxins in your deepest sleep to stop them from building up and developing into memory loss (Alzheimer's). Sleep apnea makes people have trouble converting their short-term into long-term memories. Consolidating your "memories" is a critical process during deep sleep. Chronic fatigue can cause immeasurable brain damage.

Liver disease

Sleep apnea results in oxidation stress. The severity of the sleep problem directly exacerbates fatty liver disease. People who are obese and afflicted with sleep apnea may accumulate excess fat in their liver. And you know what? The liver begins to enlarge. Sadly, the liver cells are replaced by scar tissue.

High blood pressure

Sleep apnea may worsen your high blood pressure if you already have it. You get stressed when you wake up often at night. Hormones go in overdrive boosting your PB levels. You may have to cut back your blood pressure medications.

Heart problems

Heart problem is a leading cause of death and disability in the US. Sleep apnea interferes with how your body takes oxygen. It means it’s hard for your brain to control how blood flows in the arteries and the brain itself. Having repeated episodes of low blood supply and oxygen can lead to a heart attack or even sudden death from a cardiac event.

Type 2 diabetes

Sleep apnea is common in 80% of people having diabetes type 2. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes type 2 and sleep apnea. If your body does not use insulin properly during sleeping hours, it leads to diabetes. Sleep apnea accelerates abnormalities related to diabetic damage to your retina. Decreasing blood oxygen in your retinal capillaries triggers a chemical that causes macular edema where the perception of details of images occurs.

Complications with drugs and surgery

Some people with sleep apnea develop complications after surgery. Inform your doctor before the surgery when you suffer from sleep apnea. Anesthesia may worsen your condition because you get sedated and sleep on your back for a long time.

Daytime fatigue and trouble focusing

When you have repeated awakening due to sleep apnea, it is impossible to have normal sleep. Jeremy has been falling asleep while watching TV and at other times when driving. Sounds familiar? Jeremy's mental alertness and quality of life have been greatly affected by his condition. He had to seek help. Apnea events make it difficult for you to concentrate during the day, increasing the chances of workplace and road accidents. Many people have been injured in factories and construction sites. You risk falling asleep at the wheel when you have poor quality sleep at night. You experience daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and become highly irritable. Children with sleep problems don’t do well in school, because they find it hard to concentrate. Furthermore, children with sleep apnea problems may depict behavioral problems. Children with sleep apnea problems may fail to thrive in terms of weight and general growth rate. In severe cases, such children may have problems with their central nervous system or heart.


Sleep apnea is one of the underlying causes of frequent headaches in some people, and if untreated it can be disabling and uncomfortable.

High – risk pregnancies

Women with sleep apnea during their pregnancies risk developing preeclampsia. Changing hormones may bring sleeping disorders. The preeclampsia condition makes their blood pressure go up, and so the pregnant woman can be forced to deliver the baby through a Cesarean section.


In older adults treating sleep apnea helps control refractory seizures.

Eye problems

Sleep apnea can threaten your vision in various ways because of the secondary effects of cardiovascular damage. Let’s dig a little deeper. An apnea event affects fragile vessels in your eye, particularly the retina because of the sudden fluctuations of oxygen levels. The retina vessels dilate to match the blood flow according to oxygen demands.

Floppy eye syndrome: A sleep apnea event prompts shifting of sleeping positions. The big, upper eyelids get distorted when they come into contact with the pillowcases. Many patients suffer blurred vision and eye irritation which becomes worse when you wake up.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is sometimes called the silent thief of sight because it displays no symptoms. The loss of vision is usually gradual. A common consequence of sleep apnea is damage to the optic nerve which is associated with elevated pressure in your eye. Blockages of blood supply to the optic nerve increases the risk of glaucoma.

Retinal vein occlusion: One of the secondary symptoms of apnea events is retinal vein occlusion, where the veins responsible for removing blood from your retina become blocked. This unique attack on the eye can cause sudden blurring of vision in part of your eye.

Issues with sleep partners

When you snore at night, your partner in bed may not be able to tolerate the loud noise you make. It can disrupt your relationship and force your partner to evict you or move to another room or to a different floor in the house. Obviously, your partner's sleep is also deprived and the relationship is strained. Diagnosis and seeking help can solve this problem.

Psychological effects

Severe sleep apnea can cause depression. Breathing disorders aggravate nightmares as well as post-traumatic stress order. The brain will sense low oxygen and realize that the body is under threat. Consult your doctor or sleep dentist about the apnea.

Closing thoughts

Frequent tossing at night is not a good sign because it may prevent restorative sleep. The role of sleep is very prominent in your physical and mental health. Your muscles maximally relax and your body is at maximum rest at night. Sleep apnea can affect your organs in drastic ways that you may not comprehend. If you implement successful treatments, you can avoid the ravages of apnea events. Adopt lifestyle changes to help you with sleep apnea. For instance, instead of sleeping on your back, try sleeping on your side. Avoid alcohol for hours before going to bed. Quit smoking as it is in your best interest all around. There are dental and breathing devices that are used in treating the condition. In severe cases of apnea, a surgical procedure may have to be performed.