Here are 10 health problems you might face if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA):
1. High blood pressure. The American Heart Association developed new guidelines for high blood pressure. Keep your systolic blood pressure (the top number) less than 120 mm Hg
2. Heart disease. People with OSA are more likely to have heart attacks. The most common arrhythmia in people with OSAS is atrial fibrillations.
3. Type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea is common among people with this condition -- 80% or more of them may have OSA.
Obesity raises a person’s risk for both disorders. Although studies haven’t shown a cause-and-effect link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, not getting enough shut-eye can keep your body from using insulin properly, which leads to diabetes.
4. Weight gain. OSA alters hormones that control appetite. This alternation causes craving for fatty high calorie foods.
5. Mood Disorders. Without treatment, people with OSA tend to become easily frustrated
6. Acid reflux. There’s no proof that sleep apnea causes this kind of heartburn, but many people say it’s a problem. Treating it seems to improve apnea symptoms for some people, sleep doctors say.
7. Car accidents and occupational accidents When you feel groggy, you raise your risk of falling asleep at the wheel and for having an accident on the job. People with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely than normal sleepers to have traffic accidents. People with sleep apnea have more accidents at work than others.
8. Memory Loss. Sleep apnea disrupts how your body takes in oxygen, which makes it hard for your brain to control how blood flows in your arteries and the brain itself.
9. Bone loss. Low blood oxygen level increases inflammatory markers and disrupts the body’s pattern of breaking down and rebuilding bone. Some researchers believe untreated sleep apnea increases the risk for osteoporosis
10 Sexual dysfunction Untreated sleep apnea is associated with erectile dysfunction, low libido and abnormal sperm movement.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Almost all people with OSA benefit by using positive airway pressure (PAP). Your doctor may recommend a machine called CPAP, short for continuous positive airway pressure. The machine creates an air splint that keeps your tongue and airway muscles from collapsing. The splint is created by forcing room air through the machine and sending the air out of the machine via a hose attached to a mask worn on your face. People who use it when they sleep feel better and are happier.
Other treatments for sleep apnea are oral appliances, nerve stimulators to that tense airway muscle to keep the airway opened, several types of surgery, upper airway strengthening exercises, weight loss and position therapy.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 02, 2016