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Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Jul 12, 2023
Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
Sleep apnea is more than just snoring; without treatment, this condition can actually be dangerous for your health. Find out more about sleep apnea and what you need to know about avoiding the dangers of this common disorder!

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you certainly aren’t alone. This common sleep disorder affects over 18 million Americans. Many people don’t even realize they have sleep apnea and only find out once someone they live with points out their loud snoring or strange breathing during sleep. 

When untreated, sleep apnea can be dangerous for your health. At Triad Internal Medicine, our team of providers can diagnose and treat sleep apnea for patients in Asheboro, North Carolina.  

Don’t stay in the dark about the dangers of sleep apnea! We’ve put together this guide to help you understand sleep apnea and what you can do to protect your health.

Basics of sleep apnea

A common sleep disorder, sleep apnea makes you stop breathing for short amounts of time while you are asleep. Most people don’t realize that sleep apnea comes in different types.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when the muscles in your throat are too relaxed while you sleep. This condition results in snoring and brief periods of not breathing. 

Central sleep apnea is another form of sleep apnea but is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. This form results when your brain doesn’t communicate properly with your throat muscles, so they don’t get the right breathing signals. 

Some people have both obstructive and central forms, called combined-type sleep apnea. 

Since sleep apnea occurs when you’re asleep, it’s hard to know if you have it. There are some symptoms to keep in mind, and if you live with someone, ask them if they’ve noticed any strange breathing patterns at night. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with a provider at Triad Internal Medicine:

  • “Loud” sleeping or snoring
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Chronic sore throat 
  • Fatigue or drowsiness during the day
  • Waking with a headache
  • Trouble with memory or concentrating 
  • Difficulty maintaining a healthy weight

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is one of the most effective ways to treat sleep apnea, no matter what type. CPAP therapy helps you wake up feeling rested and alert by keeping your airway open as you sleep, letting you breathe normally. 

Dangers of sleep apnea

With untreated sleep apnea, your brain and body don’t get the oxygen they need to function optimally. This is because of the irregular breathing patterns caused by the disorder. Sleep apnea is a chronic disorder, meaning the negative effects build as the lack of oxygen happens every night. 

Not having enough oxygen over and over is dangerous for your health and may cause complications. Some of these complications can even become chronic medical disorders. Health dangers associated with sleep apnea include: 

When left untreated, sleep apnea has even been associated with a shortened lifespan.

Help for sleep apnea

Though these dangers are possible with untreated sleep apnea, this condition can be well-managed with CPAP therapy. Sleep apnea can also be treated with a dental device and lifestyle changes, including:

  • Changing your sleep position 
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol

Losing weight can also help treat sleep apnea. Our providers at Triad Internal Medicine can help you lose weight with a personalized medical weight-loss treatment plan

When you come to Triad Internal Medicine for sleep apnea, your provider assesses your medical history and evaluates your sleep. Once your provider arrives at an accurate diagnosis, they will provide you with a customized sleep apnea treatment plan. 

If you have sleep apnea or are worried you might, don’t hesitate to come in for a consultation. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Triad Internal Medicine today!