It’s Not Just Snoring: The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Snoring throughout the night is bad enough on its own. You may not feel as rested waking up and you disrupt your partner’s night of sleep. That’s not all, though. Your sleep apnea might be more serious than you think.

Sleep apnea is a disorder that interferes with your breathing during sleep. When you stop breathing, your brain snaps you awake very briefly to resume breathing. This interferes with your sleep cycles and prevents a good night’s sleep.

Having sleep apnea puts your health at risk, as it can lead to other serious medical problems. That’s why Dr. Luay Shayya, of Neurology Consultants of Arizona, highlights the dangers of sleep apnea in this blog post.

Two types, different causes

The two types of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. While they both share similar symptoms, the causes are different.

Obstructive sleep apnea

OSA is more common, affecting around 9% of children and 9- 24% of adults. OSA occurs when the muscles in your throat relax and block or narrow your airway. 

Once your breathing slows or stops, your brain forces you awake to open your airways. Most patients don’t even know this happens because it’s over so quickly. It can happen 30 or more times in a single hour. OSA is more likely to occur from excess weight and being male.

Central sleep apnea

This type isn’t as common as OSA. Central sleep apnea develops when your brain doesn’t signal your breathing muscles. It’s often the result of other health conditions like heart disease or opioid use.

Both types generally have the same symptoms, which include:

  • Brief periods of no breathing
  • Morning headache
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring (typically OSA)
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Gasping for air or waking with shortness of breath
  • Waking with a dry mouth

Some symptoms are only associated with central sleep apnea, like frequent chest pains at night. Dr. Shayya offers specialized treatment for both types. He determines which treatment is right for you during your consultation appointment. 

Why sleep apnea is dangerous

Sleep apnea puts a lot of stress on your body, mainly your heart. Your blood oxygen levels start to drop because you stop breathing so much. This results in high blood pressure and increases your risk of having a stroke or heart attack. 

If you already have heart problems, sleep apnea can make your condition much worse. If an already strained heart experiences multiple episodes of low blood oxygen, it can lead to heart arrhythmias.

Other complications include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Post-surgery complications
  • Liver problems
  • Daytime fatigue

Severe daytime sleepiness can put other people’s health at risk too. Excessive sleepiness is a leading cause of deadly car accidents. About 800-900 deaths occur from drowsy driving each year.

It often goes undiagnosed

Around 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, but 80% of moderate to severe cases go undiagnosed. This is another reason why it’s such a dangerous condition. You could be putting yourself at risk for serious heart problems and not even know.

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek professional help from Dr. Shayya. He’s board-certified in both neurology and neuromuscular medicine, making him an expert at treating sleep apnea.

To learn more, get in touch with Neurology Consultants of Arizona by phone or use our online booking tool.

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