A lack of proper sleep can have a significant impact on your quality of life. With the full schedules we lead today often it is hard to pay attention to our own health concerns. Many of us assume that it is our hectic schedules that keep us feeling tired all the time when the reality could be sleep apnea. It is estimated that up to 20 million people in the United States have a condition known as sleep apnea. Even people with this condition in mild stages of the disorder can face symptoms that alter one’s mental state, behavior, and could place you at a higher risk for major health concerns. People with untreated sleep apnea are far more likely to develop other disorders leading to higher medical expenses. Clinical studies demonstrate a direct link between those who have untreated sleep apnea to be twice as likely at risk for stroke and are five times more likely to suffer from a fatal heart attack. Studies also demonstrate a direct link between diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and depression. The risks also include that you are six times more likely to be involved in a serious or deadly traffic accident. The Department of Transportation estimates that 30% of commercial truck driving accidents are sleep-related.
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Simply put, obstructive sleep apnea occurs during sleep when the back of the throat collapses interrupting air flow and reducing oxygen levels in the body. This reduction in oxygen levels deprives the brain and major organs of the oxygen that is needed to restore and repair your body during sleep.
Signs & Symptoms
The signs and symptoms have been well documented for obstructive sleep apnea. They include, but not limited to; snoring, high blood pressure, depression, morning headaches, use of sleeping medications, not waking up in the morning refreshed, waking up during sleep gasping or choking, having to take naps before bedtime and/or a BMI greater than 30. To find out your “Body Mass Index” search the internet for BMI calculator. Enter your height and weight to find out your personal BMI. It only takes a couple of these symptoms to place you at risk of this disorder.
It does not require a specialist to evaluate you for this condition. Discuss your signs and symptoms with your primary care physician to consider the need for testing.
The following are risk factors of untreated Sleep Apnea
- Increased possibility of a stroke
- Increased potential for drug-resistant hypertension
- Higher risk of erectile dysfunction syndrome
- Higher risk for diabetes
- Higher risk of congestive heart failure
- Higher risk of (GERD) Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Higher risk of irregular heartbeat know as Dysrhythmias
- Increase potential for insulin resistance