Sleep apnea is an illness that needs to be taken seriously. It impacts more than your ability to get a good night sleep. Long term effects can be severe if it is left untreated. Studies have shown that those with sleep apnea were three times more likely to die sooner than those who did not have it or received treatment.
Long Term Effects of Untreated Sleep Apnea
The consequences of sleep apnea range from both annoying to life threatening. Symptoms range from depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, increased weight gain to learning and memory difficulties. You may find yourself falling asleep at work, on the phone or even while driving. In fact, untreated sleep apnea patients are 3 times more likely to have automobile accidents. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause any one of these conditions:
- Weight gain. Increased fat deposits around the neck can increase your risk of sleep apnea but if you already have sleep apnea it can lead to additional weight gain. Sleep apnea impairs your body’s endocrine system. This disruption causes the release of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you crave sweets and carbohydrates.
- High blood pressure. When you’re sleep is constantly interrupted, it places your body in a fight or flight mode that causes your blood pressure to spike. Over time this leads to a consistent higher blood pressure
- Heart disease. Sleep apnea causes a lower amount of oxygen to be in your bloodstream. This impacts brain function and ability to regulate the flow of blood. Atrial fibrillation – heartbeat rhythm problems – is also associated with obstructive sleep apnea. These issues cause people who suffer from sleep apnea to suffer more heart attacks during the night
- Type 2 diabetes. Approximately 80% of those who have diabetes suffer from sleep apnea. While research has not shown a clear link between sleep apnea and diabetes, sleep deprivation can impact insulin absorption. This resistance to insulin is a precursor to diabetes