Can Sleep Apnea Really be Fatal?

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when breathing repeatedly stops for 10 seconds or more during sleep. This causes a decreased flow of oxygen to the blood and can cause people to awaken during sleep throughout the night. Some studies have shown that people with undiagnosed sleep apnea might be up to three times more likely to die prematurely.

In one study, researchers monitored more than 1,500 adults for 19 years who had been screened for sleep apnea. Results indicated approximately 19% of those with what was diagnosed as severe sleep apnea died during the follow-up period compared with only 4% of those without a sleep apnea diagnosis. Researchers determined that the risk of premature death increased as the severity of sleep apnea increased. However, the silver lining to all this is that the findings also suggested that proper sleep apnea treatment could reduce these instances of premature death.

There are several causes of sleep apnea. The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea in adults is obesity, as it affects the soft tissue in the mouth and throat. The throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed when we sleep and excessive soft tissue can cause the airway to become blocked.

There are other causes of obstructive sleep apnea, many of them hereditary. Anatomical features such as a narrow throat, thick neck and a round head can contribute as well. Other contributing factors include hypothyroidism, allergies and a deviated septum that causes congestion in the upper airways. Other factors also include smoking, excessive alcohol use and the use of other sedatives.

If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can cause serious health issues including cardiovascular disease and even premature death as outlined above. If you have any warning signs such as loud snoring and repeatedly waking up at night, you should talk to your doctor. If you are looking for a sleep apnea specialist in New York, look no further than Dr. Shukla at Sleep MD NYC.

Effective Treatment Options

The American College of Physicians emphasizes that it really comes down to lifestyle modifications, especially weight loss, when you are looking to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Researchers spend considerable time looking at various sleep apnea treatment options and determined that current therapies are effective options that work.

Losing weight is the biggest positive change you can make in treating obstructive sleep apnea, according the experts from the ACP. They state that, “losing just 10% of body weight can have a big effect on sleep apnea symptoms. In some cases, losing a significant amount of weight can even cure the condition.”

Because weight loss is difficult and doesn’t necessarily happen overnight, many people use a CPAP machine which fits over the nose and mouth and blows air into the airways to keep them open at night when you sleep.

The ACP recommends the only sure remedy to sleep apnea is losing weight or surgery to remove the excess tissue from the palate or throat. Of course, you need to make sure you have been properly diagnosed with sleep apnea and really explore your options with a qualified medical professional.

Sleep Apnea Specialist in New York

If you find yourself waking up frequently in the night and struggling with daytime sleepiness, you might suffer from a more serious sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. If you think you might have a more serious sleep issue, contact Dr. Shukla at Sleep MD NYC, the sleep apnea specialists in New York, for a consultation. Don’t let poor sleep habits or a more serious health issue keep you from getting the rest you need.

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