Sleep apnoea is a serious medical condition that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. Each pause in breathing is called apnoea and it can last from seconds to minutes. During an apnoea, oxygen is not delivered to the brain and other organs.
“Sleep apnoea should not be left untreated and in this article you will read about the various health problems that this condition may induce,” says Dr Garry Cussell of Specialist Clinics of Australia. He explains that there are two types of sleep apnoea:
- Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). This is the more common form of apnoea that is caused by a blockage of the airway. It happens when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes during sleep and collapses backward.
- Central sleep apnoea. This form of apnoea is rarer and it has to do with the brain failing to control the muscles to breathe. This lack of signalling is due to instability in the respiratory control center.
High blood pressure or heart problems
“Your blood pressure is increased every time a sudden drop in blood oxygen level occurs, which is a big strain on the cardiovascular system,” says Dr Cussell.
Obstructive sleep apnoea increases the risk of a stroke. This is particularly dangerous if you’ve got an underlying heart problem already. The recurring instances of low blood oxygen, which is a direct result of sleep apnoea, threaten with a cardiac event that might even end in death.
OSA may induce high blood pressure and the more advanced your apnoea condition is, the greater the risk of high blood pressure.
Additionally, obstructive sleep apnoea is also associated with the risk of atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and other vascular problems.
“As for central sleep apnoea, the disease is the result of heart problems and not its direct cause,” says Dr Cussell.
Everytime sleep apnoea occurs during your nightly sleep, you involuntarily wake up in order to overcome the non-breathing state. You might not even realise that this is taking place but your restorative sleep is heavily disturbed.
The result of this struggle is severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability, which lead to feeling moody, depressed and worn. It becomes difficult to focus on any kind of work and you might be even falling asleep at work or in front of the TV.
Complications with medications & surgery
“The sleep apnoea condition is also important when it comes to certain types of medications as well as general anaesthesia. People suffering from it are more likely to experience complications following surgery,” says Dr Cussell.
Since they are already prone to breathing problems, being sedated and lying on the back creates a real threat to the person’s wellbeing. In this case, you have to warn your doctor of your sleep apnoea condition prior to the surgery.
Problems with the liver
Clinical tests have shown that people with sleep apnoea display abnormal results when it comes to the functioning of their liver and their organ is more likely to show to the signs of scarring.
OSA is linked with insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia. Both of these conditions are associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this case, sleep apnoea might be one of the aggravating factors in the development of NAFLD.
Interfering with sleep pattern of your partner
The ugly truth of OSA is that it is not only your condition but the person who shares the bedroom with you also suffers. Snoring can keep the people around you away from getting a good rest as well as influence your whole relationship.