When asked if sleep apnea can be fatal, many individuals hesitate to answer. Sleep apnea is not likely to be the direct cause of mortality. However, it may raise your risk of death from other causes. Diseases including hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes are all made worse by sleep apnea.
Thirty million Americans have trouble sleeping because of sleep apnea, even when all they want is a good night’s rest. Moreover, this high sum does not account for people who are never diagnosed. Sleep apnea is not simply an annoyance; it’s a dangerous sleep problem that can affect anyone. And the results can be fatal without treatment.
What is sleep apnea?
With sleep apnea, you repeatedly stop breathing while you sleep. There may be a problem with your breathing reflex or an obstruction in the airway. Sleep apnea can be one of three different types:
- Principal: The brain is unable to communicate with the muscles that regulate respiration.
- Caused by the obstruction of the airway by the soft tissues of the neck or throat. This version is by far the most typical.
- This is a complex case of sleep apnea, as it has both central and obstructive components.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea experience periodic cessations in breathing as frequently as 400 times per night. Because of this, the body doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to perform optimally. Constantly starting and stopping might have an impact on both your personal and professional life.
Sleep apnea may be to fault if you regularly feel foggy upon waking, even getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Also keep an eye out for these other symptoms:
- Extreme weariness during the day
- inability to focus
- Confused thinking or a shift in recollection
- Migraine upon waking
- Abrupt, ear-piercing snoring
- Asleep gasping for oxygen
- Poor quality of sleep
Who is at risk for obstructive sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect anybody and everyone. People of all shapes and sizes are susceptible to it. It’s a common misconception that only adults with larger frames are vulnerable. Sleep apnea can affect anyone, including those who are of normal weight and even toddlers.
Among the most well-known causes of sleep apnea are:
- Extra fat deposits throughout the upper airway due to being overweight might make breathing difficult. About 70% of persons with sleep apnea have this problem.
- Do your shirts have a snug fit around the neck even though they are a larger size? Tissue near the back of the tongue and in the upper airway tends to expand in proportion to the size of the neck. The airflow may be obstructed.
- An obstruction of the airway is possible when the tonsils, located in the rear of the throat, get overgrown. Furthermore, enlarged adenoids (located at the rear of the nose) might obstruct airflow via the nose. Both can make it hard to take a deep breath.
- It might be difficult to breathe if you suffer from chronic nasal congestion, which is generally worst at night.
- Alcohol: this can cause the muscles of the tongue and airway to relax and obstruct breathing.
- Menopause: The decrease in progesterone that occurs with menopause may cause the tongue muscles to relax. There is also an upward trend in weight in this demographic.
- Inflammation of the nasal passages and the throat can result from cigarette smoking due to the irritants included in tobacco smoke. This may cause the airway to become narrow.
- About 40% of people with sleep apnea have inherited the condition. The likelihood of passing down sleep apnea increases with certain facial and airway characteristics.
How do you diagnose sleep apnea?
An overnight sleep study is the gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea. During this evaluation, you will be wired up to a machine that will track your heart rate, blood pressure, and other biometric data as you rest. Although sleep studies are often conducted in a sleep lab, they are also possible to conduct at home. Together, you and your service provider can choose the most convenient spot.
How do you treat sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea lasts for the rest of your life. However, symptoms can be considerably reduced with continued therapy. Nevertheless, in most cases, there isn’t a permanent fix. Sleep apnea treatment often involves a variety of methods, including behavioral modification and medical intervention. These can include:
- Lifelong treatment is necessary for sleep apnea. Symptoms can be considerably reduced with continued treatment. Nonetheless, there is typically no long-term solution. Both behavioral modifications and medication interventions are used to treat sleep apnea. Such things may include:
- Proper nourishment
- Succeeding in Putting Down the Cigarette
- Altering your sleeping posture by, for example, switching to a side sleep position from a back sleep posture
- Overnight, a CPAP machine will pump air into your airway through a mask to keep it open.
- Palate, uvula, tonsil, and adenoid surgery to remove soft tissue
- Symptom-relieving drugs
Can You Die From Sleep Apnea?
Many people with sleep apnea worry that their OSA may lead them to suffocate while they sleep. That’s how it feels if you’ve ever had apnea and know what it’s like to have your breathing stop. While sleep apnea of any kind might be dangerous, it is quite improbable that you will die from a single apnea episode.
Of an episode of obstructive apnea, the tissues in your upper airway collapse and make it impossible for you to breathe. This reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and causes your body to release stress hormones, rousing you to resume breathing before you pass out from lack of air.
It is true that sleep apnea is not likely to be the cause of your death, but it does not imply it cannot be fatal.
Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?
Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart failure is caused by the same mechanism that wakes you up during an apnea incident.
In fact, sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack or death by 30% during a four to five year period, according research from the Yale School of Medicine.
Stroke risk increases by 6% each point in AHI, and other research has linked severe sleep apnea to an 81% higher risk of sudden cardiac death.
The most disturbing finding, however, came from a follow-up analysis of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, which indicated that severe sleep apnea was “significantly related with a 3-fold increased all-cause death risk [.]” That is, your risk of dying from any cause increases thrice if you have severe OSA.
It’s easy to see how OSA might raise the odds of developing something like heart disease, but how can it raise the odds of dying suddenly from something completely unrelated to your health? Sleep apnea has mental as well as physical manifestations. Daytime sleepiness raises your chance of harm on the job, in traffic, and possibly taking your own life.
However, that same follow-up estimates that at least 75% of persons with sleep apnea are remain misdiagnosed, despite the elevated dangers and the ease of identifying treatment choices.
Signs of Sleep Apnea and When To See a Doctor
Sleep apnea is hard to diagnose because it occurs while you’re sleeping. People usually start suspecting they have OSA when they experience one or more of the following signs:
- Abrupt, ear-piercing snoring
- Experiencing shortness of breath or choking upon waking
- waking up with a painful throat or dry mouth
- Morning headaches that don’t go away
- Syndrome of excessive daytime drowsiness
- Negative mood swings and short temper
- Concentration issues
- Gaining weight
Any degree of impairment to your day-to-day functioning is sufficient cause to consult a doctor about your sleep patterns. A sleep study, either in a lab or at home, is something your doctor or sleep doctor will probably suggest.
If the study confirms your suspicions of sleep apnea, your doctor will likely recommend using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. If you have trouble breathing while you sleep, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy may be able to help.
When it comes to obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP is the first line of defense because it is both effective and requires no intrusive surgery. It’s important to realize that CPAP isn’t the only option for treating sleep apnea; if the thought of being tethered to a machine is keeping you from getting tested, know that oral appliances, positional therapy, and surgery are also viable options. Talk to your sleep medicine physician about your concerns and preferences regarding therapy, as these will vary depending on the type and severity of your sleep apnea, as well as any other health issues or risk factors you may have.
However you decide to treat your sleep apnea, CPAPsupplies.com is here to help. Everything you need for a restful night’s sleep is right here, from CPAP machines and masks to oral appliances and positional sleep aids. Don’t lose any more sleep about whether or not sleep apnea is fatal.
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