The Major Effects Untreated Sleep Apnea Can Have on Your Health

If you’re like most Americans, you’re not getting enough sleep these days. Either you snore, your partner snores, or you both snore. And snoring can wake you up multiple times a night.

Snoring, in fact, isn’t just a nighttime noise nuisance. It could be a sign of a serious sleep-related breathing disorder called sleep apnea. The most common type of sleep apnea — obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) — affects about 25% of all adults and up to 45% of obese adults. 

Dana J. Rockey, DMD, is a sleep specialist who diagnoses and treats sleep apnea here at South County Sleep Solutions in Newport Beach, California. If you think you can ignore your snoring, here’s why you shouldn’t. 

Sleep apnea stops you from breathing

If you have sleep apnea, those snores and snorts and gags that either wake you up or (could) wake up a partner aren’t just funny noises. They’re a pause in your breathing. 

“Apnea,” in fact, is an ancient Greek word that means “without breath.” So, if you have sleep apnea, you’re actually sleeping without breathing many times a night. Apnea can occur hundreds of times while you sleep. And each episode can last from a few seconds to up to a minute or more.

Sleep apnea robs your organs

When you breathe oxygen into your lungs, it enters your bloodstream, where it circulates among your organs, dousing them with nutrients. No oxygen in your lungs means not enough oxygen in your blood either, which deprives your organs of everything they need to do their jobs. 

This includes your:

Not getting enough sleep also affects your reproductive organs, leading to a loss of libido in both sexes and erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.

Sleep apnea can be deadly

When your organs don’t get the oxygen they need, and when you don’t have a restful night’s sleep, your chance of premature death increases. In fact, many celebrities who met an untimely death — including Carrie Fischer, John Candy, and NFL player Reggie White — suffered heart attacks related to OSA. 

Sleep apnea is associated with a number of deadly conditions. By resolving your sleep apnea, you lower your risk for:

Because lack of sleep affects your brain, you may also be confused or drowsy during the day. Not getting enough sleep raises your risk for accidents, including car accidents or accidents at work. 

Sleep apnea is linked to obesity, too

If you look at the celebrities who died from heart attacks and other health issues related to OSA, you’ll notice that many of them were overweight or obese. Obesity and OSA are, in fact, linked in a deadly dance. 

The extra weight from fat puts pressure on your neck, tongue, and tonsils, which increases your risk for OSA. If you have OSA and don’t sleep enough, you’re more likely to become overweight or obese.

Dr. Rockey treats obesity with healthy eating and lifestyle changes. Sometimes, losing weight is enough to resolve your sleep apnea. He also works with your other health care team members to resolve or manage underlying sleep conditions that may be related to your OSA.

A simple solution for a major problem

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that impacts your health and may shorten your life if you don’t treat it effectively. In the past, the only remedy for sleep apnea was the nighttime use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which forces oxygen into your airway through a mask.

However, CPAP itself can be uncomfortable to use and may disrupt your sleep. While CPAP may end your sleep apnea, few people can tolerate using it every night.

Luckily, Dr. Rockey offers a much easier, simpler solution than CPAP. He’s an expert in custom designing oral appliances that keep your jaw in a forward position while you sleep. By moving your jaw forward, your airway stays open so you can breathe freely while you’re asleep.

The oral appliance is similar to a mouthguard that you might wear while playing sports or a nightguard you could wear while you sleep to protect your teeth from tooth grinding. The appliance requires no outside equipment to clean or maintain. You simply slip it in at night, then remove, clean, and store in the morning.

Find out now if you’re getting the restful, oxygen-rich sleep you need by scheduling a sleep consultation and dental sleep treatment today. Call us at 949-558-0554 or use our online form.

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