The dangers of sleep apnea may surprise you

The dangers of sleep apnea may surprise you.

You may not even know you have the disorder. Actually, it’s often someone else sleeping nearby who hears the snoring and gasping for breath that encourages you to be evaluated for sleep apnea. While many people think the main problem with sleep apnea is annoyingly loud snoring, there are numerous and more dangerous conditions associated with the disorder.

The one thing you don’t want to do is ignore the condition or hope it goes away on its own. Make an appointment with your doctor and follow the treatment plan to the letter before sleep apnea results in one or more of these consequences.

Consequence 1: Heart Disease

Anyone with sleep apnea has a three-fold increased risk for heart disease including heart attack, stroke, and atrial fibrillation. With apnea, you’re more likely to suffer a heart attack or heart rhythm problem while you sleep. Inadequate oxygen levels and the stress placed on your body from frequently disrupted sleep are tough on your heart, and when your body is not getting enough oxygen, your brain has trouble controlling blood flow.

Consequence 2: High Blood Pressure

Already have high blood pressure? Sleep apnea may make it worse. This is due mainly to the repetitive night wakings, which throw off the hormonal balance that controls blood pressure. A lack of oxygen in the blood can also increase hypertension. Minor as it may seem, you don’t want to mess around with high blood pressure. It’s a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and hardening of the arteries.

Consequence 3: Weight Control Issues

Being overweight increases your chances of developing sleep apnea since fat around your neck puts pressure on your breathing passages. But losing weight is also harder to do when you have sleep apnea. A lack of quality sleep triggers your body to produce more ghrelin, the hormone that tells you to eat. Plus, when you’re tired it’s more challenging to exercise, eat right, and lose weight.

Consequence 4: Type 2 Diabetes

Up to 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have obstructive sleep apnea. Scientists aren’t sure which condition comes first, but they do know that a lack of quality sleep hinders your body from properly processing insulin, which puts you at risk for diabetes.

Consequence 5: Car Accidents

Daytime sleepiness is a direct result from sleep apnea. When your body’s not getting the restorative sleep it so desperately needs, you feel tired during the day. This can lead to clumsiness, falls, and accidents. In fact, those with sleep apnea are much more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel and be involved in a car accident, putting themselves and others’ at risk.

Consequence 6: Mental Health Concerns

Being tired all the time from sleep apnea can affect your mental well-being. It has been found that those with sleep apnea are more likely to be depressed or anxious. Depression and anxiety can wreak havoc in all areas of your life, from relationships, work, and family life to sleep quality, physical health, and appetite. Get sleep apnea under control and you may get these issues under control as well.