How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Overall Health?

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Overall Health?

Aug 01, 2023

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep-breathing disorder marked by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. Besides impacting the quality of your sleep, untreated sleep apnea can adversely affect your overall well-being. In this article, let’s discuss the major types of sleep apnea, their symptoms, and potential health complications of sleep apnea.

Types and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is the most common sleep apnea that occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax excessively during sleep, partially or completely blocking the airway and stopping breathing.

Central sleep apnea (CSA). CSA is less common and happens when the brain doesn’t send correct signals to the muscles that control breathing, affecting normal breathing.

Complex sleep apnea. It’s very rare. It’s a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

While sleep apnea symptoms can vary from person to person, they may include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of breathing stopping during sleep, reported by another person
  • Gasping for air or choking during sleep
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Awakening with a dry or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Difficulty concentrating when awake
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Depression, mood swings, and Irritability

Visit our dentist for sleep apnea treatment near you if you have any of these or related symptoms. Prompt treatment is essential to identify and address the root cause before it causes long-term complications.

The Effects of Sleep Apnea on the Body

Below are common health complications of untreated sleep apnea:

Daytime fatigue

Sleep apnea can cause multiple breathing disruptions throughout the night, making having restful, restorative, and quality sleep harder. In turn, you can experience daytime sleepiness, drowsiness, tiredness, and fatigue, significantly affecting your daily activities like work and school.

Cardiovascular Complications

Untreated chronic sleep apnea causes recurring breathing interruptions throughout the night, resulting in low oxygen levels in the cardiovascular system. It can cause enormous stress on the heart and the cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of issues like:

High blood pressure. Sleep apnea can cause sudden oxygen flow in the cardiovascular system, leading to increased or worsening blood pressure.

Arrhythmias. People with sleep apnea are likely to experience irregular heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of heart failure and stroke.

Heart disease and heart attacks. The stress of dealing with multiple breathing interruptions can lead to heart disease.

Metabolic Issues

Frequent sleep awakening and deprivation can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic problems like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and obesity. The connection between sleep apnea and obesity is bidirectional. While sleep apnea can cause sleep apnea, obesity can also lead to or exacerbate sleep apnea.

Respiratory system

Untreated sleep apnea can derivate the body of enough oxygen during sleeping, which can cause or worsen respiratory symptoms like difficulty breathing, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma.

Complications with medicines and surgery

Obstructive sleep apnea can lower oxygen flow, making certain medications and anesthesia riskier and difficult to control. It can cause complications during serious treatments like surgery. Before any surgery, ensure your doctor knows that you have sleep apnea.

Mental health issues

Quality sleep is essential for mental health. Untreated sleep apnea can cause daytime fatigue, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes, contributing to anxiety disorders. Recent evidence also shows that untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Respiratory system

Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to fertility issues. In men, sleep apnea can contribute to erectile dysfunction and the ability to have children.

Reproductive system

Sleep apnea can contribute to reproductive problems like reduced testosterone, less desire to have sex, erectile dysfunction, and impotence.


Chronic and untreated sleep apnea can contribute to road accidents and serious health complications like stroke and high blood pressure, leading to death.

Get Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance in Shalimar

Do you have untreated sleep apnea? Our dentist near you can help diagnose your condition and provide the right treatments like CPAP to address your need and prevent complications. For more information about sleep apnea and its treatment, contact Complete Health Dentistry of the Emerald Coast.

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