Millions of Americans live with sleep apnea. It’s estimated that one in 15 Americans lives with a diagnosed case of sleep apnea, and some 4% have undiagnosed sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea — whether diagnosed or not — can have very serious consequences for your overall health. Dr. Thomas D. Sokoly of Sokoly Dental explains more about the dangers of sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing while you sleep. You may snore, which is what happens when you start breathing again after an episode where your breathing stops. Snoring isn’t just unpleasant for the people who share your bedroom; it’s actually a dangerous sign for your health.
During the periods when you stop breathing, your brain is deprived of oxygen. This lack of oxygen leads to all sorts of problems while you’re awake. Here are six dangerous consequences:
1. Increased risk of stroke
Sleep apnea increases your risk of having a stroke while you’re awake. That risk is four times greater than that of someone without sleep apnea.
2. Increased risk of heart attacks
Untreated sleep apnea also increases your risk of having a heart attack, with sleep apnea sufferers being three times more likely to have heart disease.
3. High blood pressure
Having untreated sleep apnea means your body isn’t getting the oxygen that it needs, which means your heart has to pump harder, leading to high blood pressure. Your hormones also go into overdrive during sleep, which leaves your pressure high throughout the day.
4. Type 2 diabetes
Untreated sleep apnea can put you at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Not getting adequate sleep can prevent your body from using insulin properly, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. In addition, obesity can increase your risk of both type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.
5. Increased risk of car accidents
If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you’re more likely to have trouble staying awake during the day. This drowsiness persists when you’re behind the wheel, which increases your risk of getting into car accidents.
6. Mood disturbances
If you don’t get a good night’s rest, it can eventually take a toll on your mood. You may already know about this if you have a night with limited sleep: you don’t wake up feeling chipper and energetic. Imagine if you never get a good night’s sleep! It can make you feel depressed and lacking in energy.
How to treat sleep apnea
If you have sleep apnea, you don’t have to spend time worrying about the risks you may face. Make an appointment with Dr. Sokoly to address the problem at the source.
Most sleep specialists recommend treating sleep apnea with a device called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. But many people don’t stick to their recommended CPAP usage, in part because the devices tend to be loud and uncomfortable to use.
Dr. Sokoly’s snoring therapy system uses a custom-fitted mouthguard to wear at night. It brings your jaw into proper alignment, which keeps your airways open. This prevents the sleep apnea symptoms and the risks they cause.
Call Sokoly Dental at 202-280-2428 today to learn more, or make an appointment online.