What Happens if Sleep Apnea Goes Untreated?

Sleep Apnea Gilbert, AZ

Patients affected by Sleep Apnea experience numerous breathing interruptions during sleep. In more severe cases, this can happen hundreds of times every night. The condition most often affects males, but other risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Sinus and allergy issues
  • Middle age
  • Larger neck size
  • Family history
  • Enlarged tonsils or tongue

Because sleep plays such a vital role in health and wellness, all sleep disorders should be taken seriously. Failure to see a medical or dental professional for treatment can come with life-altering short- and long-term consequences. 

Short-term side effects of untreated sleep apnea

It is important to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and to seek professional evaluation to determine the underlying cause. Most people with this type of sleep disorder notice these common short-term aftereffects.

Fatigue

Patients with sleep apnea may not realize they are waking several times each night. This can impair restful sleep and lead to fatigue during the day. A persistent, unexplained lack of energy should always be addressed with a doctor.

Headaches

Morning headaches that tend to ease after a few hours may be a result of sleep apnea. Unlike migraines or hormonal headaches, the pain is not accompanied by other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light or sound and nausea. These headaches can be a result of lower oxygen levels during the night when breathing is impaired.

Trouble with everyday tasks

Sleep disorders can impair cognitive function, having a negative impact on daily routines. Sleep apnea can lead to lack of focus, problems in school, trouble with memory, and even difficulty operating a motor vehicle.

Long-term side effects

Like many other health conditions, sleep apnea tends to worsen over time if left untreated. The disorder also strains the body's most crucial systems, which can result in disease and even death.

Diabetes

Insufficient sleep can cause blood sugar levels to rise and may lead to eventual insulin resistance. When combined with poor eating habits to compensate for a lack of energy, these side effects significantly increase a person's risk for developing or worsening diabetes.

Cardiovascular problems

Sleep apnea places a tremendous amount of stress on the heart and lungs. Over time, this can lead to increased blood pressure, heart disease, and even heart attack or stroke. Those who are overweight are at a higher risk for these complications.

Depression

Lack of sleep has a direct impact on mental health. Patients who do not get sufficient rest can experience hormonal imbalances and reduced production of serotonin and dopamine. These changes can lead to anxiety and depression.

Conclusion

Sleep apnea can be a dangerous health issue when left untreated. Those who experience symptoms should seek prompt professional diagnosis and treatment. Some patients can see a reduction in sleep apnea symptoms by wearing a dental mouthpiece at night and changing sleeping positions. Moderate to severe cases will likely require the use of a CPAP machine. In some situations, surgery may be necessary. Oftentimes a sleep study is used to provide a clear diagnosis and treatment plan to deal with symptoms before they become serious.

Request an appointment here: https://www.scottcondiedentistry.com or call Scott Condie Dentistry at (480) 530-6027 for an appointment in our Gilbert office.

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