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Is Untreated Sleep Apnea Deadly?

February 29, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — drschumacher @ 6:43 pm

Comparison of normal airway and obstructive sleep apneaDid you know that more than 39 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? While the condition is easy to treat, 1 in 50 Americans is undiagnosed. If you’ve been ignoring symptoms of sleep apnea, daytime fatigue isn’t the only complication of delaying treatment. Untreated sleep apnea puts you at risk of potentially deadly complications. Here’s why you shouldn’t wait to see your sleep specialist. 

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition that causes frequent breathing disruptions while sleeping. The tongue or soft tissues in the back of the mouth collapse, creating an obstruction that restricts the airway. This can result in potentially hundreds of pauses in breathing every night. Each event can last for a minute or longer. 

Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Every time you stop breathing, your body is deprived of oxygen, which can lead to several serious health issues with no treatment, like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. OSA increases your risk of heart failure by 140%. In addition, 48% of type 2 diabetics also have OSA. Obesity not only increases your risk of OSA, but also diabetes and heart disease. 

Each breathing disruption also affects your sleep cycle. Not only can this cause fatigue, irritability, and depression, but it can lead to sleep deprivation. Sleep apnea has been connected to an increased risk of auto accidents from drowsy driving. Severe sleep apnea increases your risk of car crashes by 123%. Besides auto and workplace accidents, sleep deprivation can cause memory loss, cognitive changes, depression, and anxiety.

Options for Sleep Apnea Therapy

Better nights are possible with sleep apnea therapy. Not only will you get the rest you need, but you’ll also promote your overall wellness. Your sleep specialist will create a personalized treatment plan, which may include:

  • CPAP: A CPAP machine delivers gentle air through a mask worn over the mouth or nose to prevent breathing disturbances.
  • Oral Appliance: An oral appliance is an alternative to a CPAP, but it can also be used along with the machine. The custom-fit device positions your tongue and jaw comfortably to prevent airway obstructions. It’s comfortable and effective in treating mild-to-moderate OSA.

Complying with your treatment plan will ensure you sleep peacefully and breathe easier to look forward to better physical and psychological health.

About Dr. Rob Schumacher

Dr. Schumacher studied at both the University of Kentucky and the University of Michigan. He is committed to providing the most up-to-date solutions in dentistry. Besides being a board-certified prosthodontist, he is also a member of many professional organizations, including the American Dental Association. Request an appointment through his website or contact his office at (781) 463-5029.

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