The root causes of sleep apnea can vary widely and are usually different for each person. Sleep apnea can be hereditary or an unfortunate byproduct of your lifestyle.

Why do I Stop Breathing at Night?

The throat muscles relax naturally during sleep, which causes the airway to narrow. In a healthy body, this doesn’t prevent air from flowing in and out of the lungs. Sleep apnea sufferers, however, experience total blockage in their airways for a number of reasons, including:

  • The tongue and throat muscles relaxing too much
  • Having a large tongue and tonsils in comparison to the windpipe
  • Being overweight. Extra fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe, making it narrow and difficult to keep open
  • Having a naturally small airway
  • Aging, which limits the brain’s ability to keep the throat muscles stiff during sleep

What Happens if Sleep Apnea Goes Untreated?

Patients often underestimate the severity of sleep apnea. Left untreated, sleep apnea can give way to an array of adverse side effects or diseases that will take a massive toll on your health.

  • High blood pressure: Sudden drops in your blood oxygen level, which happens during apnea episodes, can strain your cardiovascular system and increase blood pressure.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Spikes in blood pressure caused by sleep apnea puts extra pressure on the heart and can lead to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in America.
  • Diabetes: Patients with obstructive sleep apnea tend to have higher blood sugar levels than patients without. The body’s regulatory systems increase blood sugar levels when suffering from sleep apnea, which can raise the likelihood of developing diabetes.
  • Stroke: Stroke and sleep apnea are closely related—it can be both a cause and an effect. Stroke is much more likely to occur in patients with lower oxygen levels and heightened blood pressure.
  • Sleep-deprived partners: Most of our sleep apnea patients report that their partners are losing sleep due to their snoring or constant interruption throughout the night. The only thing worse than one sleep-deprived person is two sleep-deprived people under the same roof!

Call Desert Dental Group in Tucson, Arizona, to Learn More

Losing sleep entails more than just dealing with difficult mornings and long nights. Getting less than perfect rest can lead to excessive tiredness and lack of focus on top of potentially lethal health problems. Take control of your sleep and schedule a consultation with Dr. Brett Barney or Dr. Jonathan Hall today! We can help you regain your rest.