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The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Sleep is an essential function of your body, making it something you cannot do without. A healthy night’s rest allows you to recharge, and can even help your body fend off diseases. On average, a healthy night’s rest is about 7-9 hours, but there are several types of sleep disorders that can make getting that difficult and directly affect your health getting worse. One common disorder is sleep apnea, a condition that approximately 22 million Americans suffer from.

Left undiagnosed and untreated, this sleep disorder can do long-term damage to your health. To better understand the dangers of sleep apnea, let’s explore what the condition is, the dangers it presents to your health, and how it can be treated.

Residents of the Lake Oswego, Oregon, area looking for treatment of disorders, like sleep apnea, can find help from the team of doctors at Lake Grove ENT. We are a physician-owned group that uses our combined 85 years of experience to offer you ear, nose, and throat diagnostic and treatment with the latest and greatest tools and techniques.

Understanding sleep apnea

This condition affects your breathing as you sleep, causing you to repeatedly stop and resume breathing over the course of a night’s rest. This can be the result of different types of sleep apnea:

People dealing with this condition often experience loud snoring, periods where you don’t breathe while sleeping, gasping for air while sleeping, dry mouth upon waking, morning headache, insomnia, and hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness). This condition can be caused by many factors, such as obesity, narrow airways, being older, being male, family history, use of alcohol, sedative, or tranquilizers, smoking, nasal congestion, and certain medical conditions.

Sleep apnea complications

The lack of breathing associated with this disorder affects the amount of oxygen your blood gets while you rest, which lowers your heart rate the longer you’re deprived of it. Left untreated for extended periods of time, it can contribute to other problems that can shorten your life, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, daytime fatigue, liver problems, and diabetes. 

Weight is a common factor contributing to this illness in men and women as they get older (many women tend to gain weight after menopause, which increases the chances in them), and up to 50% of people dealing with heart failure of atrial fibrillation deal with sleep apnea. 

Methods of treatment

Treating this condition will depend on its severity: 

Conservative

Mild cases can be managed with weight loss, avoiding alcohol and certain sleeping pills, using a wedge pillow, or using nasal sprays or nasal strips. 

Mechanical

Mechanical methods (positive airway pressure, or PAP therapy) include the use of devices like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), Bi-Level PAP, Auto CPAP or Auto Bi-Level PAP, and adaptive servo-ventilation. Dental appliances and nerve stimulators can also be used to keep the airway open while sleeping.

Surgical

Surgical options can be used for people snoring without sleep apnea, or excessive obstructive tissue blocking airflow while sleeping, and are generally used when conservative options fail. Surgeries include somnoplasty, tonsillectomy, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, mandibular/maxillary advancement surgery, and nasal surgery.

Untreated sleep apnea can pose a real danger for your long-term health, but many treatment options are available to be rid of this ailment. If you’re dealing with the symptoms of sleep apnea and need help, make an appointment with the medical staff at Lake Grove ENT today to get diagnosed and treated.

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