Many people confuse sleep apnea with snoring, but they’re not the same thing. Snoring is simply a sound made by the vibration of tissue, but sleep apnea occurs when a patient actually stops breathing several times during sleep.
Sleep apnea is not something you can safely ignore. It can lead to a number of serious medical issues if left untreated.
Sleep Apnea and Your Circulatory System
Your circulatory system includes your heart, lungs, veins, arteries, airways and all the other organs that help spread oxygenated blood throughout your body. Sleep apnea puts a heavy strain on your circulatory system, especially your heart.
Nighttime is a time for rest. And even though your heart never stops working, your heart gets some relief from its hectic workload while you sleep. But this isn’t true for people with sleep apnea.
By reducing the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, sleep apnea forces your heart to work harder. That’s why untreated sleep apnea substantially increases your chances of suffering from a heart attack, heart disease, or high blood pressure.
Sleep apnea can also hurt your respiratory system, which is the part of your circulatory system that’s responsible for the exchange of gases. This includes your nasal cavity, lungs, trachea, and other organs. Sleep apnea contributes to respiratory ailments, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain
Weight gain is a major cause of sleep apnea. But sleep apnea also makes it more difficult to lose weight, creating a vicious cycle. That’s because sleep apnea slows down your metabolism, limiting your body’s ability to burn off calories. The daytime fatigue associated with sleep apnea also makes it harder for people to get enough exercise, which further decreases your metabolism.
Sleep apnea also inhibits your body’s ability to lose weight by causing you to retain a chemical called ghrelin. This is a hormone that causes you to crave carbohydrates. The weight gain associated with sleep apnea also makes you more susceptible to diabetes.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
If you think you might be suffering from sleep apnea, call Dr. Pearson right away at 718-948-5100 or fill out the submission form. We’ll make sure you get the right diagnosis and the best possible care.
Dr. Pearson features a number of treatment options for sleep apnea, including our custom-fitted oral appliances. It’s a small device you wear while sleeping that looks like a retainer. We’ll find the treatment solution that works best for your lifestyle.