How Sleep Apnea Negatively Impacts Overall Health

woman yawning

Did you know that nearly 30 million American adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea? Even more are probably living with it without even knowing. Snoring, gasping, and choking while sleeping are some of the most common signs of the disorder, but when left untreated, serious side effects arise.

As dental professionals, the mouth is our specialty. It also happens to be where obstructive sleep apnea begins. The throat muscles relax throughout the night, blocking the airway, and leading to snoring. Unfortunately, snoring is the least concerning symptom of sleep apnea. Patients also experience low libido headaches, irritability, dry mouth, and brain fog.

Continue reading to learn about how obstructive sleep apnea affects almost every system in the body.

Digestive System

Sleep apnea causes a domino effect of symptoms that can lead to digestive issues like acid reflux. Unfortunately, it can also lead to more serious problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer. Sleep apnea is also believed to be related to celiac disease.

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea may also develop fatty liver, high levels of liver enzymes, and liver scarring.

Endocrine System

The endocrine system is made up of the pineal gland, thyroid gland, pituitary gland, thymus, adrenal gland, ovary, pancreas, and testis. When this system doesn’t work properly, a person’s hormones can go crazy. A lack of sleep can easily cause that disruption, leading to problems like high cholesterol, insulin resistance, high blood sugar, and weight gain.

Respiratory System

Obstructive sleep apnea puts incredible strain on the respiratory system. People who already have respiratory problems like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will likely experience amplified conditions.

Circulatory and Cardiovascular Systems

When a person stops breathing multiple times throughout the night, his blood oxygen levels decrease, and carbon dioxide levels increase.  In severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, a person may stop breathing more than once every couple of minutes. Scary! This can lead to several heart problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and atrial fibrillation.

Nervous System

Our central nervous system consists of the spinal cord and brain. Obstructive sleep apnea has an immense effect on memory because of a lack of rest from interrupted sleep. Researchers at UCLA found that the mammillary bodies in the brain, which are responsible for memory storage, are 20 percent smaller in people with obstructive sleep apnea. As a result, memory loss, fatigue, a short attention span, and moodiness are possible side effects.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Consider talking to a sleep apnea dentist about how a mandibular advancement device can benefit your sleep and overall health. Those dentists typically work alongside sleep doctors and general physicians to get to the root of the problem and find an effective treatment.

Dr. Timothy Mickiewicz in Sacramento offers an alternative treatment to sleep apnea. Whereas many patients are given noisy and uncomfortable CPAP machines, Dr. Mick recommends a mandibular advancement device that is comfortable, safe, and effective. Most patients experience incredible shifts in their sleep quality, health, and mood after just a few days of using this device!

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that we take very seriously, and you should too! Don’t wait any longer to find relief and gain a happier, more fulfilling life. Contact our team today at (916) 469-9178 to schedule your initial consultation.

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