Sleep apnea is an extremely dangerous condition to develop, and it's made worse by the fact that many people don't even know that they have it. How are you supposed to keep track of what you're doing in your sleep? If someone has told you that you snore very loudly or seem to stop breathing during the night for periods of time, there's a strong likelihood that you have sleep apnea. Here's why it's such a risk to your health.
Limits Oxygen Intake
Sleep apnea gets in the way of your breathing during the night. When sleep apnea occurs, the airway collapses and prevents you from inhaling properly. This means that your body isn't receiving oxygen. Desperate red blood cells end up starved and have nothing to deliver when they travel to places like the brain and heart. This is extremely dangerous for your entire body and can even induce brain damage in severe cases.
Raises Blood Pressure
Most people who have sleep apnea will stop breathing for a period of time and then suddenly gasp, catching their breath, and promptly pass out into not breathing again. Now imagine repeating this process for 7-9 hours when you sleep every day.
Struggling to breathe over a long period of time raises your blood pressure, and that's not all. Sleep apnea has been shown to have a negative impact on the entire cardiovascular system, increasing the chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke. This is on top of any other pre-existing conditions that may be tied to sleep apnea, like being overweight, which can also increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.
What to Do
If anyone ever tells you that you don't seem to be breathing well during the night, you need to seek out medical help. This is a condition that can have a lot of negative impacts on your life, and yet you might not even know that your body is struggling.
When you visit a doctor, they'll likely recommend that you visit a specialist and attend a sleep lab. Sleep labs are designed to monitor you while you're sleeping. You'll be hooked up to an oxygen monitor, heart monitor, and brain monitor so that they can check to see if you're not breathing well during the night. If you are, treatment will likely be recommended in the form of a CPAP machine.
CPAP machines are somewhat similar to ventilators. They push pressurized air into your nose and mouth all through the night, keeping your airway open and delivering precious oxygen into your body. With a CPAP machine, even without any other lifestyle changes, your health will be in much better shape and you'll be at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you think you need sleep apnea treatment, contact a medical professional near you.