Sleep apnea is a common but distressing medical condition where your body is not getting enough oxygen during sleep. While sleeping, people with sleep apnea experience erratic breathing and may snore and gasp, disrupting their sleep quality and leading to exhaustion the next day.
Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to memory and concentration problems and severe health problems like hypertension or stroke. Early intervention with lifestyle changes and breathing devices can lessen or eliminate symptoms. If these treatments fail, you may require surgery.
Explore how sleep apnea can affect these six major systems of the body.
1. Respiratory System
Sleep apnea deprives your body of oxygen and worsens asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms. People with sleep apnea may lose their breath more easily and often throughout the day and may find exercising particularly challenging.
2. Circulatory System
Obesity and high blood pressure (both associated with sleep apnea) can increase the strain on your heart. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation, which can lead to a host of unpleasant symptoms like shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, and faintness. Abnormal heart rhythms may also increase your risk of stroke.
3. Digestive System
People with sleep apnea are more likely to develop digestive conditions like liver tissue scarring, fatty liver disease, and high liver enzyme levels. If too much fat builds up in your liver, it can become inflamed or damaged. In severe cases, this fat build-up can lead to liver failure.
Sleep apnea may also worsen symptoms of GERD and worsen your heartburn, both of which can interrupt sleep.
4. Endocrine System
People with sleep apnea are at increased risk for developing insulin resistance, which can increase blood sugar levels and lead to Type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea is also associated with metabolic syndrome, high LDL cholesterol levels, and being overweight.
5. Nervous System
Central sleep apnea, a less common form of sleep apnea, involves a disruption of the signals in the brain responsible for regulating breathing. This form of apnea often causes other neurological symptoms, such as tingling or numbness in the extremities. Fortunately, less than 1% of the U.S. population has central sleep apnea.
6. Reproductive System
Left untreated, many people with sleep apnea experience a diminished sex drive and reduced libido. Sleep apnea also contributes to erectile dysfunction, as apnea can diminish blood circulation and cause vascular issues.
Certain forms of sleep apnea may reduce fertility in men. A 2014 study found that mice with chronic high-frequency intermittent hypoxia (characteristic of obstructive sleep apnea) experienced reduced male fertility and desaturation of reproductive tissue.
Treat Your Sleep Apnea at TruBlu Dentistry
Beyond offering cutting-edge dental treatments, TruBlu Dentistry offers sleep apnea treatments that can restore your quality of sleep.
Non-invasive dental devices are a popular way to treat sleep apnea and snoring without surgery. TruBlu recommends Silent Nite, a dental device designed for sleep apnea patients. Silent Nite is a customized night guard that helps open your airway by shifting your lower jaw slightly forward. With an unobstructed airway, patients can breathe deeply all night and awaken rested and refreshed.