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man snoring with potentially untreated sleep apnea

What Are the Long Term Side Effects of Untreated Sleep Apnea?

Have you been told you snore a lot? Do you wake up tired in the morning? You may be living with the effects of sleep apnea! 

It may seem like the issue is one that bothers your spouse or roommate more than it does you! Sleep apnea is definitely more than a condition that makes people feel fatigued. It’s a problem that strains your body, immune system, mind, and can potentially shorten your lifespan. You can’t afford to ignore it! 

The Importance of Quality Sleep and Proper Quantity of Sleep

For some people, it’s better to get fewer hours of deep, quality sleep than it is for restless sleep over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, the side effects of sleep apnea prevent your body from reaching or staying in those deeper zones of rest. Seven hours of sleep might be more than enough for someone without a sleeping disorder, while nine hours isn’t nearly enough for someone who suffers from sleep apnea. 

In fact, sometimes sleeping longer can make you feel more groggy and less rested

Aside from the common long term effects of sleep apnea, usually, the only way to know if you’re getting enough quality sleep is to have a sleep study conducted. Some of these tests can even be handled in the convenience of your own home! The easy-to-follow process will record your breathing rate, levels of quality sleep, and how much sleep you’re getting in total (not to mention how often you gasp for air or start snoring.)

Importance of an Oxygenated Brain

Obstructive sleep apnea deprives your brain of oxygen as you sleep. When that happens, your body starts to tighten up and wake itself. Your blood pressure rises. Even your teeth start to grind against each other, triggering future issues like TMJ disorder, headaches, or broken dental work. 

When your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it makes you feel fatigued. You might even start to drift off to sleep during the day, putting you at risk of an automobile accident. Or more noticeably, you’ll likely find that you’re more forgetful or have a difficult time concentrating. 

Part of having a sleep study conducted will be measuring your blood oxygen levels. If your numbers drop too low, it will show that your body (and brain) aren’t getting the amount of oxygen that they need to stay healthy. 

What Happens if Sleep Apnea Goes Untreated?

Untreated sleep apnea can be a ticking time bomb. According to WebMD, as your body becomes more fatigued the effects of sleep apnea raise your chances of health problems like:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack and cardiovascular problems
  • Depression
  • Diabetes 

Essentially, untreated sleep apnea doesn’t just make you tired; it can complicate your overall quality of life. 

Can You Die from Sleep Apnea? 

Although you might not necessarily die in your sleep because of sleep apnea, asking if you can die from sleep apnea is a loaded and complicated question. Apnea can increase your chances of a heart attack. Unfortunately, people pass away from cardiovascular attacks every day. So, in essence, sleep apnea might be the link that pushes your body to the edge, causing you to suffer a terminal cardiovascular incident. One could almost say that yes, you can die from sleep apnea. 

Oral Sleep Apnea Side Effects

Some of the most common oral signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include worn-down teeth, broken dental restorations, and TMJ disorder. The doesn’t include headaches or muscle pain radiating through your neck and shoulders. 

As your body is deprived of oxygen, people with sleep apnea tend to clench their teeth tightly together. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s a common symptom. Over time, all of that enamel-on-enamel wear will start to flatten down your teeth (and the fillings or crowns that are on them.) 

How Can a Dentist Help Treat Sleep Apnea?

Fortunately, some people with sleep apnea are able to see great results with oral sleep appliance therapy. If you’re someone who is CPAP intolerant or looking for a CPAP alternative, a special dental sleep aid might be the best solution. 

Oral sleep appliances position your lower jaw slightly forward, so that your teeth aren’t clenching together and that the soft tissues at the back of your mouth aren’t sealing off your airway.

If you’re interested in learning more about CPAP options and alternatives in Sarnia, we encourage you to schedule a complimentary consultation at Dr. Karen Davis Dentistry. Dr. Davis has worked with numerous sleep apnea patients to find an effective, comfortable solution for a better night’s sleep. Call our Sarnia sleep apnea dentist today to learn more!

Dental Blog

3 Comments

  • As someone who lived many years with untreated sleep apnea I am glad to see the increased awareness and understanding around the serious impact it has on your overall health.

  • How do i get treatment for this my extreamly loud snoring is getting out of hand and it is causing my wife to stay awake at night is there anything i should do or can get treatment for this ?

    • Hi Dan, we understand. If you’re in Sarnia, please give us a call so we can assess your unique situation and recommend the best next step for you.

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