Did you know that obstructive sleep apnea can negatively impact every system in your body? From your ability to process blood sugar to your blood pressure to how your heart beats and even your digestion?
It’s true. Another fact: Getting help for untreated sleep apnea and sleep disorders can help prevent these issues and a lot more. We’ve seen how sleep apnea treatment can help many patients, and we love hearing how their health has improved.
Recently, a patient sent us an email about their experience before and after being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea and asked us to share their story so other people with sleep apnea get the treatment they need.
In their message, the patient shared that they visited their endocrinologist for an annual appointment as a checkup for Hashimoto’s disease. This autoimmune condition causes the body to attack the thyroid. The patient mentioned that their doctor was surprised to see that their bloodwork had improved significantly. They did not show antibodies for the condition, and their thyroid was functioning perfectly.
The patient shared with us that their endocrinologist was surprised at the change and asked the patient what they did to change their health situation. After explaining that they had been diagnosed with sleep apnea and had undergone treatment for the sleep-breathing disorder with a BiPAP machine, the doctor exclaimed, “Well, that would do it!”
We love hearing this story; it affirms what we already know. First, obstructive sleep apnea is a severe health condition, and the effects of sleep apnea can impact all organs and systems of the body, including the heart, brain, bladder, liver and the immune system, by increasing inflammation, which causes the body’s defenses to go haywire. Second, getting diagnosed with a sleep-breathing disorder is the first step in changing your life and improving your health.
The Signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
According to the American Heart Association, 20 percent of American adults have sleep apnea, and many are undiagnosed and untreated. This is because most people living with sleep apnea are entirely unaware of the interruptions in their breathing. In most cases, those affected do not fully wake up when it happens.
Untreated sleep apnea is dangerous, no matter how mild your case is.
A study published in the journal Sleep shows that people with severe sleep apnea have a significantly higher mortality risk than people without sleep apnea; this risk of death increases when sleep apnea is untreated. This is because blood oxygen levels are impacted when the soft tissue in your airway collapses and impedes breathing during sleep.
Research has shown that people with sleep apnea have three times the risk of dying due to any cause compared with people who do not have sleep apnea.
While some of the most notable or pointed signs of OSA are snoring, gasping or choking during sleep and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, there are other signs of the condition that you may not immediately connect to a sleep-breathing disorder.
These signs include:
- Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
- Problems thinking
- Memory problems
- Impotence and changes to libido
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Unexplained weight gain
- Waking to urinate or nighttime bedwetting
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Unrefreshing sleep despite sleeping several hours
- Diabetes or uncontrollable blood sugar
- Metabolic syndrome
- Dry mouth/drooling
- Oral and dental health issues
- Heart attacks, atrial fibrillation (fluctuating heart rate) and cardiovascular disease
Seeing the Signs of Sleep Apnea?
Are you seeing the signs of OSA, but you’re not sure what your next step is? Do you want more information about the treatment of sleep apnea? If you’re seeing the signs in yourself or a loved one and are wondering where to start, the answer is here at Miami Designer Smiles.
Our patient who shared their journey with sleep apnea and Hashimoto’s with us stressed the importance of getting treated. When the patient visited us, we saw the signs of OSA and suggested that they seek out a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis.
The patient said, “None of this would have come about if it hadn’t come from you. I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart for you, Dr. Conchi, Brenda, and our relationship of (I think) 20 years. Just wanted you to know that your suggestion was spot on.”
The patient also shared the need to tell other patients about the problems related to obstructive sleep apnea and how treatment can improve their health. “Please feel free to show this email to any other patients who might be wondering if doing a sleep study is worth it,” the patient wrote. “It IS worth it, 100 percent!”
We Think It’s Worth It, Too
If you see the signs of sleep apnea in yourself or a loved one, it’s worth it to schedule a visit to talk to us. In many cases, we see the signs of OSA or sleep-disordered breathing before patients themselves, as its effects can mimic those of other conditions or become so “normal” you may not even realize something is wrong.
We understand the potential risks of sleep apnea, and the condition can mean long-term, serious and in some cases even fatal situations for your health.
Learn more about sleep apnea treatment or about how to schedule a sleep study. Call us now to schedule an appointment.