Everyone snores from time to time. It’s usually not a cause for concern, merely indicating that you’re a bit congested or could benefit from losing a few pounds. However, there are instances where snoring is severe to the point where it interferes with your breathing while you sleep. In that case, it could mean you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If left untreated, the disorder can contribute to multiple health issues and severely affect your quality of life. Read on to learn more about the hidden dangers of untreated sleep apnea.
Seeking treatment for sleep apnea is incredibly important because it can ease (sometimes even cure) certain health issues. That said, here are some chronic conditions that can become worse if you allow sleep apnea to go untreated:
High Blood Pressure
If you already have high blood pressure (or hypertension), sleep apnea can make it worse. Constantly waking up throughout the night puts the body under additional stress, leading to an increase in blood pressure. Plus, the level of oxygen in your blood drops when you can’t breathe well, which may add to the problem.
The stress of waking up frequently can also put extra stress on your heart, increasing the risk of heart disease. Additionally, people with sleep apnea are more likely to have heart attacks, possibly because of low oxygen levels. Since the disorder interferes with the way your body takes in oxygen, it makes it harder for your brain to control how blood flows in your arteries and the brain itself.
Type 2 Diabetes
Did you know that sleep apnea is common among people with type 2 diabetes? Well, obesity is a common risk factor for both disorders. Even though studies haven’t shown a cause-and-effect link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, failing to get a good night’s rest can prevent your body from using insulin properly, leading to diabetes.
As you can imagine, it can be difficult to think clearly after a night of poor sleep. That said, sleep apnea can play a role in increasing a person’s risk of cognitive decline and developing dementia. A 2014 study published by Neurology found that men with sleep apnea had higher rates of microinfarcts (mini-strokes) and an increase in brain atrophy. Although you may not develop dementia as a result of sleep apnea, the effects can make it seem like you’re experiencing some degree of cognitive deterioration. In many cases, treating sleep apnea can lead to an improvement in concentration.
Increased Risk of Cancer
One study published in the National Library of Medicine found that people with melanoma and pancreatic or kidney cancer were likely to have sleep apnea. The good news is that the disorder did not affect the risk of developing breast or prostate cancer. What’s more, people with sleep apnea were not more likely to die of cancer than those without sleep apnea. In a nutshell, it seems to just play a role in increasing a person’s cancer risk.
Even though sleep apnea can interfere with multiple aspects of your life, it doesn’t have to. If you suspect you have it, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist for a sleep study. They’ll confirm a diagnosis and help you get a good night’s rest in no time!
About the Practice
At Glisten Dental, we’re passionate about helping patients of all ages achieve and maintain their happiest, healthiest smiles. Our team strives to provide exceptional and high-quality dental care that’ll leave you satisfied after every appointment. If you think you may suffer from sleep apnea, we’re committed to finding a solution that’ll help you enjoy a better night of rest. To make an appointment, visit our website or call (918) 254-8686.