Sleep Apnea: What happens without treatment?

Sleep Apnea: What happens without treatment?

sleep apnea DubuqueSleep apnea is a common yet dangerous condition that can negatively impact your health and well-being. When sleep apnea goes untreated, patients are vulnerable to developing a number of conditions and quality of life issues. Research has linked obstructive sleep apnea to hypoxia, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Following is some useful information about sleep apnea, its symptoms, and how it affects health.

An Overview of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing during sleep. Interrupted breathing can last for about 60 seconds until the brain sends signals to wake the sleeper slightly to resume normal breathing. Breathing cessation (apnea) is caused by airway obstruction that occurs in the nose or oral cavity. Soft oral tissue and nasal abnormalities can block breathing passageways when a patient is lying down.

Since the cycle of apnea and slight wakefulness can occur dozens, if not hundreds of times in a night, it prevents a patient from gaining rejuvenating rest because they are unable to progress through each stage of sleep. This disruption in the sleep cycle causes a patient to develop sleep deprivation, which will affect motor function, cognitive ability, and mood. From a long-term perspective, untreated sleep apnea may weaken the cardiovascular system, affect oxygen levels in the blood, and contribute to memory loss.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be difficult to self-diagnose because the sufferer is not fully conscious during episodes of apnea. In many cases, a patient’s bed partner will notice sleep apnea symptoms. Common indications of sleep apnea include:

  • Dry mouth upon waking
  • Morning headaches
  • Chronic fatigue even after what seems like a full night of sleep
  • Irritability
  • Loud and obstructive snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Sleep Apnea Treatment

Treating sleep apnea may involve minimally invasive approaches first. Common methods include the use of oral appliances to keep airways open or CPAP machines to push air into the oral cavity or nose. If these treatments are ineffective, oral surgery might be needed to correct tissue abnormalities.

To learn more about sleep apnea treatment, call our practice at Great River Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to reserve an appointment with our team.