Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that is characterised by intermittent pauses in breathing during sleep. It is caused by the relaxation of the muscles in the throat, which results in a partial or complete obstruction of the airway.
This obstruction leads to a decrease in oxygen levels in the body, which triggers the brain to wake up and resume breathing. The repeated interruptions in sleep can result in a host of negative consequences if left untreated.
In this blog, we will discuss the main consequences of untreated sleep apnoea..
1. Cardiovascular disease
Untreated sleep apnoea has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The condition can cause disruptions in the body’s oxygen levels, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and heart failure.
These issues occur because the body’s oxygen levels drop during episodes of sleep apnoea, which can strain the heart and other organs over time. Hence, it is important to consult with chest physicians to know and understand the overall health condition of a person.
2. Type 2 diabetes
Sleep apnoea can also lead to type 2 diabetes, which is a condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This occurs because the body’s oxygen levels drop during sleep apnoea episodes, which can cause the body to become resistant to insulin.
Insulin resistance is a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes, and individuals with sleep apnoea are at higher risk for developing the condition.
Obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnoea, but untreated sleep apnoea can also lead to weight gain. This occurs because sleep apnoea disrupts the body’s normal sleep patterns, which can cause an increase in hunger and a decrease in physical activity.
Additionally, the fatigue and daytime sleepiness associated with sleep apnoea can make it more difficult to exercise and maintain a healthy diet.
4. Daytime Sleepiness
One of the most noticeable consequences of untreated sleep apnoea is excessive daytime sleepiness. This is because the repeated interruptions in sleep prevent the body from entering deep sleep stages, which are necessary for restorative sleep. As a result, people with sleep apnoea may experience drowsiness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating during the day. This can impact their work performance and increase the risk of accidents while driving or operating machinery.
5. Cognitive function
Untreated sleep apnoea can have negative effects on cognitive function. This includes issues with memory, attention, and concentration. The condition can also cause daytime sleepiness, which can affect performance at work or school. Additionally, untreated sleep apnoea has been linked to an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Depression and anxiety
Sleep apnoea can also lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This occurs because sleep apnoea can disrupt the body’s normal sleep patterns, which can cause mood changes and irritability. Additionally, the fatigue and daytime sleepiness associated with sleep apnoea can make it difficult to manage stress and other emotional challenges.
7. Impaired driving
Untreated sleep apnoea can also have negative consequences on driving ability. The daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with sleep apnoea can make it more difficult to focus and react quickly while driving. This can increase the risk of accidents and injuries on the road.
Untreated sleep apnoea can have serious consequences on physical, mental, and emotional health. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnoea, it is important to seek medical attention.
Treatment options include lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and exercise, as well as medical interventions such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. By addressing sleep apnoea early on, individuals can avoid the negative consequences of the condition and improve their overall health and well-being.