How Sleep Apnea Affects the Body
Sleep apnea is a condition that, when left untreated, can affect many parts of the body. This disorder should be consistently treated to avoid serious health problems from occurring. Getting diagnosed is essential to receiving proper treatment for sleep apnea. If someone thinks their symptoms could be due to sleep apnea, they should talk with their doctor to determine if they have the condition.
When a person has sleep apnea, their body is not able to continually breathe throughout the night; there are frequent pauses in breath during the person’s sleep cycle. These pauses may be brief — only a few seconds — or they can last up to a minute. The pauses in breath are usually accompanied by a loud snoring or choking sound as the person gasps for air.
To start breathing again, the body will wake itself up. This interrupts the person's sleep cycle and can cause them to feel tired and run down the next morning. The combination of lack of sleep and lack of oxygen can contribute to larger health problems if the condition goes untreated. There are different causes for sleep apnea: one of the common causes is the airway becoming blocked during the night. This can occur if the jaw is unable to stay closed while sleeping, and this in turn causes the tongue to fall into the back of the mouth and stop the airflow. The fatty tissue may also collapse while breathing, which stops the airflow as well.
Sometimes the problem resides in the brain; there are instances where the brain consistently forgets to tell the body to breathe by not allowing the muscles to activate for the person to continue breathing. Both causes of sleep apnea can lead to larger health problems if they are not treated. These health problems can occur in various sections of the body.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition which, if left untreated, can cause serious issues to the other parts of the body. So, to avoid any kind of serious health issues, one should get this medical condition treated as early as possible. The following are different parts of the body that can be affected by sleep apnea:
- Some of the common symptoms of sleep apnea are dryness in the mouth or a sore throat. At times, in the middle of the night, an individual may feel like they are choking or they will snore loudly. A headache is known to be one of the common side effects of a lack of sleep and insufficient oxygen during the night. Due to this, the individual may find it difficult to focus on their daily activities, making it dangerous at times to perform tasks like driving because of their lack of concentration.
- Sleep apnea is known to also have an impact on the respiratory system of the individual, since it is this system that tends to struggle to ensure that everything functions smoothly. If the individual is already suffering from conditions such as COPD or asthma, the symptoms may worsen with sleep apnea.
- One kind of sleep apnea, called central sleep apnea, is known to originate within the nervous system. It makes the individual’s brain stop sending signals to the body to carry out the breathing function. If this condition is not treated in time or is left completely untreated, it can lead to other issues in the nervous system, such as the body becoming numb, wherein there could be a tingling feeling or numbness in certain parts of the body.
- The circulatory system also takes a hit from sleep apnea due to the lack of oxygen. Those who are obese or who have high blood pressure tend to suffer from sleep apnea. Due to these conditions, there is excess strain placed on the heart, leading to abnormal heart rhythms.
- At times, an individual suffering from sleep apnea can also develop insulin resistance, wherein the body finds it difficult to use insulin properly.
- Sleep apnea can also lead to worsening conditions of heartburn or GERD, and it can also contribute to the individual’s inability to sleep properly through the night if the condition is left untreated.
- The liver is also affected by sleep apnea. The body may start to experience a rise in its liver enzyme count, leading to liver scarring, and the individual could then develop a condition known as fatty liver disease.
- Sleep apnea can lead to a reduction in sex drive, and men may face problems with erectile dysfunction. If these symptoms persist, the individual may experience trouble having kids. However, it is not a threatening medical condition.
To avoid all of the above issues, it is best to get diagnosed as early as possible if you notice any symptoms related to sleep apnea and have it treated to prevent further troubles.