It’s Not Just Snoring: The Dangers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Does your partner complain about your snoring? Do you wake up feeling unrefreshed and struggle with daytime fatigue? While many people are simple snorers, you may have obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that can contribute to serious health complications. 

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your mouth and top of your throat relaxes while you sleep and descends, blocking your airway. As a result, your breathing stops for several seconds until your brain sends a signal to wake you up and open your airway. In severe cases, you could wake up more than 30 times an hour

In addition to snoring, sleep apnea causes a variety of disruptive symptoms, including:

However, the long-term effects of disrupted respiration can cause or contribute to a wide range of seemingly unrelated health problems. Fortunately, at the Center for Implant & Esthetic Dentistry in Beverly Hills, Dr. Ramin Mahallati provides customized treatments for sleep apnea.

The dangers of sleep apnea

The effects of sleep apnea on your health are far and wide, affecting just about every part of your body. Here’s the rundown of what happens in key systems.

Circulatory system

Sleep apnea can contribute to or exacerbate high blood pressure. Every time you wake up during the night, it creates stress in your body, triggering hormone production, and boosting your blood pressure. Your blood oxygenation levels decrease, which adds to the problem. 

Sleep apnea also increases your risk of other cardiovascular health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. For example, the disruption in oxygenation can cause an abnormal heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, which increases your risk of a stroke.

Respiratory system

The oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea can also cause respiratory problems. If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you may find that your symptoms get worse or that physical activity is more challenging than usual. You may also find that you have more frequent asthma attacks. 

Digestive system

Many patients find that sleep apnea and acid reflux occur together. While medical researchers are still studying the connection between the two diseases, weakness in your throat and weakness in your esophagus may be closely related. Unmanaged acid reflux also tends to be worse at night, which could contribute to your sleeplessness. 

Sleep apnea also increases your risk of fatty liver disease and having high levels of liver enzymes.

Endocrine system

Your endocrine system controls your hormone production. Sleep apnea is often associated with hormonal issues such as insulin resistance (prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes) as well as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome includes several conditions that increase your risk of heart disease. 

Other problems

If you’re a man, sleep apnea can disrupt your sex life, as decreased oxygen levels contribute to erectile dysfunction.

Excessive daytime fatigue can disrupt your performance at work. Sleepiness and reduced concentration can also make it dangerous for you to operate a car.

What should I do if I think I have sleep apnea? 

If you’re concerned about sleep apnea, make an appointment with Dr. Mahallati. He can provide a referral for sleep studies to confirm your diagnosis. Dr. Mahallati also provides consultations to identify the best treatment to reduce your sleep apnea. 

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea usually involves a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. With CPAP machines, you wear a mask at night, and it’s connected to the machine that delivers a steady stream of air pressure to keep your airways open. 

But some people can’t tolerate the machines, and that’s where Dr. Mahallati comes in to provide an alternative treatment. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, he can make you an oral appliance that holds your jaw in the correct position to prevent your soft tissues from relaxing and blocking your airway. 

If the idea of an oral appliance sounds like an easier way to treat your obstructive sleep apnea and you’d like to discuss it, please contact us. Just call our office or use the online scheduler to make an appointment. 

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