More than 20 million Americans are estimated to suffer from sleep apnea, but nine out of ten don't recognize the problem, or don't get the treatment they need. Although a person may be roused from deep sleep hundreds of times a night because of their apnea events, they may not even know they are being constantly but momentarily awakened, or they may blame it on other causes such as anxiety or a need to urinate. In fact, people seeking treatment for insomnia or night-time urination often have sleep apnea.
The risks of developing sleep apnea increase with age and excess weight, but it can affect persons of all ages and body types, including children. Because it robs the body of many of the restorative benefits of sleep, and causes physiological stress, sleep apnea can lead to a wide range of health problems. The more immediate effects can include:
- Indigestion during sleep
- Night sweats
- A frequent need to urinate throughout the night
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Morning headaches
- Dry mouth or irritated nose
- General feelings of listlessness and depression
- Memory problems and an inability to focus
- Low energy levels
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- A tendency to nod off when sitting or driving
Falling asleep at the wheel due to sleep apnea is an especially dangerous consequence of the condition. Sleep apnea sufferers have been shown to be three times as likely to get into an accident while driving, and the condition is considered second only drunk driving as a cause for fatal crashes.
Over time, sleep apnea can also cause or increase the risk of a wide range of medical problems. These can include:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Erectile dysfunction
In addition, sleep apnea has been shown to increase the risks of many cancers.
By now, you should realize that sleep apnea is a potentially serious disease, and one that should not be left untreated. Fortunately, it is a disease that can be treated with a high degree of success. At Seattle Dental Sleep Therapy we are committed to helping you find the best possible treatment for your sleep apnea condition.
If you suspect you are suffering from sleep apnea, we hope you will contact us today to learn how you can begin the return to better health.