Sleep apnea is when you snore so loudly it sounds like a freight train in the middle of the night. But it’s not just annoying; it is rather a serious condition where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Not exactly a restful experience, but can sleep apnea actually kill you? Let’s find out.
Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?
You may think that the breathing pauses between your sleep can kill you; however, it is not like these gaps of gasps can directly be fatal.
Although, in a way, sleep apnea can potentially turn into a life-threatening condition if left untreated.
Since this disorder hinders breathing during sleep, this leads to a lack of oxygen supply to your body and brain. This interruption can last from a few seconds to even a few minutes; and may happen several times in one night, leading to poor-quality sleep.
Dangers Of Sleep Apnea
If your condition gains severity, it may lead to various other health complications such as high blood pressure, CVDs, stroke, and even death. The lack of oxygen puts a lot of stress on your heart. So, less supply makes it work harder for your heart to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
These events, in turn, lead to heart failure – a condition where the heart is unable to pump enough blood according to your body’s needs.
Sleep apnea can also cause sudden drops in blood oxygen levels, which is dangerous for you if you have any pre-existing conditions such as epilepsy or heart disease. In extreme cases, sleep apnea can lead to sudden death due to the lack of oxygen to the brain.
It is essential to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring, daytime sleepiness, and morning headaches, and seek medical attention if you suspect you may have the condition.
Sleep apnea characterizes by breathing pauses or shallow breaths while sleeping. Along with snoring, it can host a whole world of other health complications. The good news is that it can be treated effectively. Here are some of the common treatment options:
- Lifestyle changes: Making some lifestyle changes can be the first step towards treating sleep apnea. Some of these include weight loss, avoiding alcohol consumption, and smoking cessation.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): The most sought-after treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP machines have masks that fit over your nose or mouth, supplying a continuous flow of oxygenated air to keep your airways open while you sleep.
- Mouth Guard/ Dental Retainer: Oral appliances are another treatment option that can work well. These devices fit in your mouth and work by repositioning your jaw and tongue to keep air flowing.
- Surgery: Surgery is the last resort usually. But it may be a viable option for some patients with sleep apnea. The procedure involves removing tissue from the throat or reshaping the jaw.
- Positional therapy: Changing your sleeping position reduces sleep apnea symptoms. For example, sleeping on your side instead of your back can help minimize snoring and improve breathing.