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What Does Sleep Apnea Do To Your Body

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How To Get Tested For Sleep Apnea

Body Basics: What is sleep apnea and how does it affect your body?

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you have two basic options for testing.

Traditionally, studies were conducted in a sleep lab over one to two nights. However, technology has provided a simpler alternative: the at-home sleep study. Either test to detect sleep apnea require a prescription from a physician before you can take it.

Health Consequences Of Sleep Apnea

The chronic sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can result in daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and an increased risk of accidents and errors in your daily activities.

Sleep apnea also has a mental impact. It can trigger moodiness and irritability and cause anxiety and depression. It also increases your risk of other serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.

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Sleep Apnea May Harm Your Heart Health

Sleep apnea has been linked to heart conditions such as irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and heart attacks. If you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing when you sleep, which causes your heart rate to drop when your body wakes you up to breathe again, your heart rate accelerates and spikes your blood pressure, according to the NSF.

Sleep apnea also reduces oxygen levels in your blood, limiting the supply that goes to your vital organs, says Dasgupta. Your heart, like your other organs, needs oxygen to function properly.

This reduced oxygen also increases the levels of inflammation-causing chemicals in the blood that can damage the heart and blood vessels.

While its important to eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise regularly, treating sleep apnea and making sure you get enough sleep can also help reduce your risk of heart disease.

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What Are The Dangers Of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Untreated sleep apnea carries with it a slew of consequences and some are more serious than others. There are also several risk factors that if left unchecked, along with your untreated sleep apnea, can have serious consequences, including death. Some of these include:

  • Cardiovascular Conditions. Untreated sleep apnea is also linked to virtually all major cardiovascular issues, ranging from high blood pressure to heart problems to stroke risks.
  • Alzheimers Disease. Those with untreated sleep apnea are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimers as sleep has been proven to flush out the A-beta deposits that build up. If the A-beta deposits arent flushed out due to continual lack of sleep, it may eventually lead to the development of Alzheimers.
  • Diabetes. The link between OSA and type 2 diabetes is well-known by researchers and physicians. Untreated OSA is often associated with insulin resistance, which is a condition that increases blood sugar. Its also associated with glucose intolerance, which is a form of hyperglycemia that is a predictor of type 2 diabetes. Untreated sleep apnea may eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. If this form of diabetes is untreated or poorly managed, the risks associated with it include serious health issues like organ damage, cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, vision problems, and even death.
  • How You Know You Might Have Sleep Apnea

    The Sleep Apnea Spectrum and What You Can Do About It

    It can be hard to know if you have sleep apnea. After all, youre asleep when it happens and many people dont notice or remember episodes of apnea.

    Most individuals finally seek medical advice because their loud or frequent snoring is disrupting someone elses sleep, like a bed partner or roommate, says Dr. Doerr.

    But theres more to sleep apnea than just snoring. If you think you might have sleep apnea, ask yourself these questions:

    • Do I wake up feeling exhausted, even after a full nights sleep?
    • Do I wake up with a dry mouth, sore throat or headaches?
    • Am I unusually sleepy throughout the day?
    • Am I overweight?

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    Strokes And Transient Ischemic Attacks

    Untreated sleep apnea increases your risk of a stroke or transient ischemic attack or mini stroke.”

    In a stroke, blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted. Oxygen and nutrients cant get through, and brain cells start dying within minutes.

    Sleep apnea is associated with strokes by lowering your oxygen levels. That starts a chain reaction in the brain that leads to impaired blood flow.

    A stroke can kill you. Or it may partially paralyze you. That may leave you having to re-learn basic skills like walking and eating.

    In a TIA, blood flow is only blocked for a few minutes. Still, in the early minutes, its impossible to tell it apart from a stroke. Also, TIAs often warn that a stroke is coming.

    A stroke or TIA is always a medical emergency. The faster you get help, the less brain damage youll have.

    Symptoms of a stroke come on suddenly. Watch for:

    • Numbness or weakness, especially on just one side of the body
    • Confusion, difficulty speaking, or trouble understanding other people
    • Vision problems in one or both eyes
    • Dizziness, loss of balance and coordination, or trouble walking
    • Severe headache

    Home Sleep Apnea Test

    Some patients with many risk factors for sleep apnea and no other medical disorders may be candidates for a home sleep apnea test. This type of sleep study lets you sleep in your own home while a small monitor collects data as you sleep. The testing equipment is less complicated than what is used in an in-lab sleep study. You will be shown how to hook up the testing equipment yourself. After your home sleep apnea test, you can take the device back to your medical provider or send it by mail.

    Other apps and sleep tracking devices may claim to be able to detect sleep apnea, but their results can be unreliable. Be sure to discuss these devices with your medical provider.

    After your sleep study or home sleep apnea test, you will schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss the results. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your medical provider will discuss your treatment options with you.

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    Treatment For Sleep Deprivation

    The most basic form of sleep deprivation treatment is getting an adequate amount of sleep, typically 7 to 9 hours each night.

    This is often easier said than done, especially if youve been deprived of precious shut-eye for several weeks or longer. After this point, you may need help from your doctor or a sleep specialist who, if needed, can diagnose and treat a possible sleep disorder.

    Sleep disorders may make it difficult to get quality sleep at night. They may also increase your risk for the above effects of sleep deprivation on the body.

    The following are some of the most common types of sleep disorders:

    • insomnia
    • circadian rhythm disorders

    To diagnose these conditions, your doctor may order a sleep study. This is traditionally conducted at a formal sleep center, but now there are options to measure your sleep quality at home, too.

    If youre diagnosed with a sleep disorder, you may be given medication or a device to keep your airway open at night to help combat the disorder so you can get a better nights sleep on a regular basis.

    The best way to prevent sleep deprivation is to make sure you get adequate sleep. Follow the recommended guidelines for your age group, which is 7 to 9 hours for most adults ages 18 to 64.

    Other ways you can get back on track with a healthy sleep schedule include:

    What Happens When You Sleep Too Much

    How Does Sleep Apnea Harm The Body?

    Hypersomnia is a condition marked by sleeping too much. People with hypersomnia often experience excessive daytime sleepiness and may find it hard to stay awake when they need to. Studies indicate that hypersomnia is associated with changes in sleep architecture, such as a reduction in deep sleep and an increase in NREM sleep, which may affect overall sleep quality.

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    What Happens When You Sleep

      When you sleep, your body undergoes a series of changes that enable the rest that is vital to your overall health. Sleep allows the brain and body to slow down and engage in processes of recovery, promoting better physical and mental performance the next day and over the long-term.

      What happens when you dont sleep is that these fundamental processes are short-circuited, affecting thinking, concentration, energy levels, and mood. As a result, getting the sleep you need seven to nine hours for adults and even more for children and teens is crucial.

      What happens during sleep, including how distinct stages of sleep unfold, demonstrates the complexity of sleep and its importance for our well-being.

      Sleep Apnea Is Linked To Depression And Anxiety

      According to the NSF, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with major depression, regardless of factors like weight, age, sex, or race.

      In a study published in January 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine that assessed 284 newly diagnosed people with sleep apnea, researchers found that 15.5 percent had persistent, mild depression and 6 percent had major depression. The researchers also found that obesity, daytime sleepiness, low physical activity, insomnia, low quality of life, and the use of sleep medication were all related to depression.

      Treating sleep apnea could help alleviate the symptoms of depression. In a study published in September 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, nearly 73 percent of the subjects suspected of having sleep apnea had significant depression. After 3 months of receiving continuous positive airway pressure treatment a facial mask that supplies air to the nasal passages that number dropped to 4 percent.

      Other research, including a meta-review published in May 2019 in the journal EClinicalMedicine , has also found that CPAP treatment can reduce the symptoms of depression in people with obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease.

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      Sleep Apnea Causes And Risk Factors

      While anyone can have sleep apnea, certain factors increase the risk:

      • Sex Men are much more likely to have sleep apnea than women, although after menopause, frequency in women increases.
      • Older age While sleep apnea can occur at any age, it is more common as you get older. According to the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study, its prevalence peaks when people are in their 50s and 60s and then plateaus.
      • Weight The risk of sleep apnea is much higher in those who are overweight, and higher still in those who are obese.
      • Anatomical differences Physical attributes that can contribute to sleep apnea include a small upper airway, a small or receding jaw, a long soft palate, a high tongue position, a deviated septum, and enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
      • Smoking According to a study conducted by Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, University of Wisconsin, Madison, smokers are three times more likely to have sleep apnea than those who have never smoked.
      • Neck circumference greater than 17 inches in men or 16 inches in women.

      Allergies or other medical conditions that cause nasal congestion and blockage can also contribute to sleep apnea.

      What Are The Health Risks Of Sleep Apnea

      Sleep Deprivation

      Sleep apnea can lead to sleep deprivation from constant nightly interruptions and shallower overall sleep. Lack of sleep is associated with far-reaching health consequences that affect a person physically, mentally, and emotionally, and as a result, it comes as no surprise that sleep apnea has been tied to diverse health problems.

      Because of how it affects oxygen balance in the body, untreated sleep apnea raises dangers for various types of cardiovascular issues including high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

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      Treatment For Obstructive Sleep Apnoea In Children

      Large tonsils and adenoids can block the throat during sleep and cause snoring. In some cases, this is bad enough to cause obstructive sleep apnoea .

      The more severe your childs OSA is, the more likely it is that removing the tonsils and adenoids will help improve their health and quality of life.

      Tonsillectomy for sleep apnoea is considered if your child usually breathes noisily during sleep and has at least 2 of these other related problems when they are not sick:

      • Struggling to breathe while asleep.
      • Pauses in breathing during sleep.
      • Gasping or choking during sleep.
      • Persistent daytime mouth breathing.
      • Daytime tiredness, concentration or behaviour problems not related to other causes.

      Two out of three children with mild sleep apnoea get better over 6 months without surgery. If your child is young, you may wish to wait 6 months before deciding whether surgery is an option.

      If you are unsure, you may like to read this fact sheet by Safer Care Victoria which can help you make an informed decision about tonsillectomy with the support of your childs doctor.

      Safer Care Victoria has also developed several personal story videos and fact sheets on tonsil surgery for families. These include:

      How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Daily Life

      Many people with sleep apnea experience these impacts:.

      • Interfered with sleep and daytime tiredness.
      • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
      • Unsafe driving and workplace mishaps.

      And they can cause:

      • Anxiety. Depression can cause a plethora of signs. One of the most common symptoms is excessive sleepiness, linked to sleep apnea, absence of oxygen or snoring.
      • Poor memory and intellectual function. Sleep apnea and its impact on memory and intelligent function is a prevalent problem..
      • Research studies reveal that individuals who support a healthy sleep schedule are less most likely to lose their tasks or get fired due to lacks. Sleep apnea, characterized by abnormal stops briefly in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep, can trigger victims to feel exhausted the next day and make them more prone to getting fired.
      • It is common for relationships to suffer when one or both partners suffer from sleep apnea. It is vital to get treatment for your partner if they are suffering from sleep apnea.

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      Information To Help You Stay Safe

      Sleep apnea can raise your risks of complications if you are having surgery and it can affect how well you drive.

      • If you need medicine to make you sleep during surgery or pain medicine after surgery, tell your healthcare provider that you have sleep apnea. Your provider may have to take extra steps to make sure that your airway stays open during the surgery and that your pain medicine doesnt make it harder for your airway to stay open.
      • Untreated sleep apnea can make you sleepy during the day and can make it difficult for you to pay attention and make decisions while you drive. This can cause road accidents. Pay attention to your symptoms and do not drive if you feel very tired or sleepy.

      How Does A Home Sleep Test Diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea

      How Obstructive Sleep Apnea Affects Your Body – Medical Minute

      During your home sleep test, you will wear a portable device that tracks important metrics related to your sleep health. Your sleep study results will automatically be shared with your doctor through your cell phones Bluetooth. Once your doctor has reviewed your overnight sleep data, they will confirm a diagnosis and, if diagnosed, a treatment plan for OSA.

      SleepApnea

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      Sleep Apnea: More Common Than You May Think

      There are many reasons for a bad night of sleep. Caffeine too soon before bed, a late night at work, street noise, jet lag and the list goes on. Then theres sleep apnea, which causes more than just one or two nights of bad sleep.

      Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which a persons breathing is repeatedly interrupted throughout the night. For some people, apnea can interrupt sleep as often as 30 times in a single hour .

      Dont worry, though! Your brain notices and wakes you up, often with a body jerk or gasp for air, but these frequent interruptions in sleep night after night can take a huge toll on your overall health.

      We know that not getting enough sleep can impact a persons entire life, including his or her mental and physical well-being, says Dr. Clinton Doerr, a pulmonologist at Houston Methodist. If youre tired all the time, you will have a hard time focusing at work and at home, so its important to find out the cause.

      Sleep Apnea Increases Risk Of Metabolic Syndrome

      Research including a meta-analysis of 39 studies on sleep apnea and metabolic syndrome published in April 2018 in the World Journal of Diabetes shows a connection between sleep apnea and metabolic syndrome, the name for a group of risk factors that increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other health problems.

      According to the NHLBI, if you have three of the following risk factors, you have metabolic syndrome:

      • High blood pressure
      • High blood sugar
      • Increased waist size or excess abdominal fat in the stomach area
      • High fasting blood sugar

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      What Causes Sleep Apnea

      Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses during sleep. Central sleep apnea is usually observed in patients with central nervous system dysfunction, such as following a stroke or in patients with neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis . It is also common in patients with heart failure and other forms of heart, kidney or lung disease.

      Treatment For Sleep Apnea

      Am I Able To Do A Sleep Test At Home?

      All the health problems linked to the condition can sound scary, but there are lots of ways to treat it.

      Your doctor may recommend a machine called CPAP, short for continuous positive airway pressure. The machine, with a mask attached by a hose, can help you breathe better at night and get the rest you need. It can take some getting used to, but people who use it when they sleep feel better and are healthier.

      There are other treatments, too, such as mouth appliances, nerve stimulators to keep your airways open, and several types of surgery. Talk to your doctor about which option is most likely to help you feel better and avoid other health problems.

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