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Untreated Sleep Apnea: Can It Be Fatal?

May 14, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — fresnofamilydental @ 9:05 pm
man lying awake with untreated sleep apnea

More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, a disorder that causes frequent breathing disruptions during sleep. Shockingly, research shows that up to 80% of people with mild to severe obstructive sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. Many patients dismiss the symptoms as being too minor for intervention. Unfortunately, snoring and restless nights are just the beginning. Without treatment, this disorder can pose potentially life-threatening risks. Read on to learn why addressing your symptoms is crucial for your health and well-being.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by frequent pauses in breathing throughout the night. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type, occurring when the soft tissues in the back of the mouth or throat collapse and block the airway. Each breathing disruption lowers your body’s oxygen levels and interrupts your sleep cycle. While snoring and daytime fatigue are common signs, the complications extend far beyond these symptoms.

Here are some warning signs to look for:

Serious Medical Problems

Every breathing interruption reduces your body’s oxygen levels, which can significantly impact your health over time. Untreated sleep apnea is linked to a higher risk of severe health issues, including heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. These conditions are known to reduce life expectancy and overall quality of life.

Decreased Mental Health

Sleep apnea can also severely affect your mental health. Studies show that it increases the risk of anxiety, panic disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, and memory loss. Poor sleep quality disrupts mental health, leading to cognitive impairments and difficulty concentrating.

Increased Risk of Car Accidents

One of the most immediate dangers of untreated sleep apnea is the increased risk of car accidents. Sleep deprivation from frequent nighttime awakenings leads to drowsiness, slower reaction times, and impaired judgment. Research shows that people with sleep apnea are 2.5 times more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents. Those with severe sleep apnea have a 123% increased risk of such accidents.

The Importance of Seeking Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea itself is not directly fatal, but its associated risks can significantly shorten your lifespan. Fortunately, sleep apnea treatment can help you lead a longer and healthier life! One effective treatment option is using an oral appliance. This custom-made device keeps your airways open, preventing breathing disturbances and improving sleep quality.

About the Author

Dr. Byron Reintjes is a seasoned dentist with nearly thirty years of experience under his belt. He earned his DDS from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Reintjes specializes in preventive, cosmetic, restorative, and emergency dentistry. He and his team are also proud to offer effective sleep apnea treatment. If you’re having trouble sleeping and are seeking an official sleep apnea diagnosis, schedule a consultation via our website or call (559) 206-3719.

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