Complications Associated With Sleep Apnea

April 30, 2024

Sleep apnea is a very common sleeping that can lead to serious complications if left unchecked. When an individual is affected by this condition, their breathing will stop and start regularly throughout the night, which can make it difficult for them to get the rest they need. There are several different types of sleep apnea, including obstructive sleep apnea, complex sleep apnea syndrome, and central sleep apnea. The most common of these types is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the throat muscles relax too much and cause an obstruction to occur within the airways. The symptoms of these types of sleep apnea can overlap with one another, which means a diagnosis can be difficult. The main symptoms patients will likely experience include loud snoring, gasping for breath while sleeping, headaches in the morning, general irritability, and issues with staying asleep. Some risk factors that could contribute to the development of sleep apnea include having a narrowed airway, being excessively overweight, being older, and smoking.

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Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a disorder comprised of a cluster of health conditions that occur alongside one another. When an individual suffers from metabolic syndrome, they will likely be affected by such health conditions as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and increased weight. The presence of this condition because of sleep apnea puts patients at a higher risk of more severe complications like a stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. If individuals find they're experiencing only one of these issues like high blood pressure, they likely don't have metabolic syndrome. If they've been diagnosed with this disorder, it's possible to prevent any severe health problems by making substantial lifestyle changes. It's also important to have their sleep apnea treated so this disorder can be cured. Some of the lifestyle changes patients should look into include getting thirty minutes of exercise nearly every day, filling their diet with healthy foods, staying away from smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting the amount of salt and saturated fat in their diet.

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Fatigue During The Day

Among the most common complications that occur as the result of sleep apnea is fatigue during the day, which can make it very difficult for patients to lead a normal life. The presence of fatigue causes patients to feel more tired than they should, which means they won't have much energy to do things during the day and will have a very strong desire to go to sleep. This fatigue can also be accompanied by irritability and daytime drowsiness. When individuals are affected by fatigue, they may find they're starting to fall asleep while at work or school. If the fatigue is severe enough, it's even possible for them to could fall asleep while driving, which puts them and others at risk. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea are known to have a greater risk of being involved in a workplace accident or car accident because of the fatigue they're going through. Children who experience sleep apnea have a higher chance of performing poorly in school or exhibiting behavioral problems. Long-term physical fatigue can also lead to mental fatigue if left untreated.

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Type 2 Diabetes

If an individual is suffering from sleep apnea, it's possible their body will eventually become resistant to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. When this hormone is being produced at the right amounts and is working the way it should, the sugar or glucose in an individual's blood will be converted into energy used by the cells in their body. In the event their body becomes resistant to insulin, patients will develop type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that can't be fully cured, but can be managed. The main symptoms of this type of diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst, blurry vision, fatigue, regular infections, and dark spots around the neck and armpits. This form of diabetes can lead to many long-term complications, which extend from kidney damage and nerve damage to Alzheimer's disease and hearing impairment.

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Increased Risk Of Heart Issues

When affected by sleep apnea, patients will have an increased risk of heart issues if their case of sleep apnea isn't treated. Because sleep apnea causes blood oxygen levels to drop suddenly, a patient's blood pressure will likely increase and their cardiovascular system will be strained as a result, which can cause problems. Some of the heart issues that can occur more frequently because of sleep apnea include recurrent heart attacks, abnormal heartbeats, and strokes. If sleep apnea patients already suffer from heart disease, they should keep in mind multiple instances of lower blood oxygen can lead to death because of an irregular heartbeat. These heart issues are more common among individuals who are already somewhat unhealthy when they begin to suffer from sleep apnea. If affected by heart disease, patients should make sure to see their doctor immediately if they suspect they have developed sleep apnea.

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Problems With The Liver

While heart issues are among the most common complications of sleep apnea, this condition can also cause problems with the liver. If patients undergo a liver function test while suffering from sleep apnea, they're more likely to produce abnormal results. Their liver might also develop scarring or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This disease usually doesn't produce symptoms and has no known cause. However, some of the health complications of sleep apnea like diabetes and high cholesterol are considered to be risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. If a patient's liver cells are comprised of too much fat, it's possible they will eventually develop such health problems as ascites, slurred speech, liver cancer, and end-stage liver failure.

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