Sleep Apnea Effects – Be Warned

Sleep apnea’s effects on your life and livelihood can be devastating. Such side effects as decreased mental acuity or inattentiveness can have serious consequences on your life or the lives of others if you put yourself in their path and the situation becomes dangerous, as in putting yourself behind the steering wheel of a car and then falling asleep at that same steering wheel.

Sleep apnea affects approximately 18 million people and causes several problems for the people who have it including the two listed above and the most serious of all, death. If you have sleep apnea and know it, you should be treating it with the help of your doctor and/or dentist. If you have sleep apnea and do not know it, you need to get diagnosed as soon as possible so you can start treatment right away.

So how do you know what the sleep apnea effects are? In other words, what are the symptoms?

Sleep apnea means that you actually stop breathing when you are sleeping for at least ten seconds and can occur 30+ times per hour. The length of time you stop breathing can be even longer, maybe even as long as a minute. Think about it, if you stop breathing for a whole minute 30 times an hour, you are in serious trouble. Your blood oxygen level drops and in severe cases, you could go into respiratory arrest and become cyanotic, or turn blue.

Every time you stop breathing your brain signals you to wake up to resume breathing normally. You may not wake up fully but when you are out of the REM sleep cycle you are not getting good sleep and you will wake up tired. Sometimes even more tired than when you went to sleep. Sleep apnea makes you work very hard for the little sleep that you do get.

Sleep apnea is characterized by the reason you stop breathing. The sleep apnea we have been discussing is called obstructive sleep apnea and happens because your tongue and the muscles in your neck relax to the point where they block your airway when you are in deep sleep.

Another form of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea which happens because the brain does not signal the muscles responsible for breathing to initiate a breath. Central sleep apnea causes you to awaken very abruptly and may be accompanied by shortness of breath night sweats or both. This type of sleep apnea can be especially scary and may make you afraid to even go to sleep. Which makes the situation so much worse.

As I said, sleep apnea’s effects on your life can be devastating. You will have an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke due to the extra work required to get and keep enough oxygen circulating through your body. Treatment is very important and can include a surgical procedure to remove whatever is causing the blockage or a machine and mask to force air into your airway continuously throughout the night.

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