Categorized | Sleep Apnea

Why Sleep Apnea is Linked to So Many Health Problems


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For decades researchers and scientists all over the world have tried to uncover the connections between a long healthy life and daily routines.  This is in no way an easy research project by any means.  With such diversity in the daily lives of people, along with such wildly different economic and social backgrounds that exist on the planet in the 21st century, there are many variables to be looking at.  Some things remain the same though.  For example, sleep and the importance of a good night’s sleep are universal across all continents and among everyone and the same goes for most animals too.  When human beings do not get a good night’s sleep, their bodies are affected in several negative ways.  One of the most common reasons for a lack of good sleep is caused b

Detail from a polysomnogram, one of the tools ...

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y sleep apnea which affects the airways by blocking the natural resistant free flow of air.

With a decrease or total blockage in airflow, the oxygen levels in our blood rapidly decrease which is at the heart of so many related health problems.  One health concern from severe sleep apnea is heart attacks.  The correlation from people who suffer obstructive sleep apnea and heart attacks has been known for quite some time, however it is rarely discussed by physicians.  This is unfortunate because it is very avoidable, and when treat, the sleep apnea can be fixed which will directly impact the quality of life of the patient.

Another major concern for sleep apnea patients, and the associate health problem is the increased risk of stroke.  This again is caused by a decrease in the oxygen levels in the blood, which is caused by the blockage of airflow to the lungs.  When the throat is all clogged up with tissue, it makes it hard and sometimes impossible for air to break through and supply oxygen to the body.

Stroke and heart attacks are two of the most deadly and “major” complications that untreated sleep apnea can lead to.  But there are many more health problems that sleep apnea patients create for themselves.  One of the most dangerous health hazards from sleep apnea is the constant tiredness feelings and feelings of exhaustion that patients can experience every single day of their lives.  The feeling of fatigue that is so common with sleep apnea victims lingers and creeps up throughout the day no matter what the circumstances are.  This is especially dangerous for people while driving cars, and while working.  The reason for all this fatigue is based on the interruptions that are happening while normal sleep should be taking place.  For example, if you are supposed to be in the middle of REM Sleep but you are constantly being interrupted by choking and a lack of oxygen, your sleep is going to be affected whether you like it or not.  This lack of proper sleep will lead to being tired during the day, and that is due to the sleep apnea.

The Immune System and Sleep Apnea

Sleep physicians have recently begun to examine the relationship between sleep apnea and the immune system.  There is early evidence to suggest that prolonged sleep apnea can damage the immune system in several ways.  One of the biggest functions of the immune system is to help regulate and deal with stressful situations that the body encounters while moving through life experiences.  For example, when a stressful incident happens, such as a car accident, the body releases several different chemicals into our blood stream such as adrenaline and cortisol.  These are meant to boost our heart rate to help our body deal with whatever is about to happen.  Often, this works out really well, but sometimes, an over-reactive immune system can actually poison our bodies and dump too much helpful chemicals into our system.  This often can lead to other medical conditions unintentionally.

Figuring out exactly what the extent of sleep apnea is on the body is an important part of the medical research, especially since there has been relatively little science geared towards this health problem in the past.  Once there is a better understanding of how bad sleep affects our overall health, there is surely going to be major medical advances in the world of sleep medicine.

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