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How Sleep Apnea Affects the Body from Head to Toe

February 9, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmogell @ 1:06 am
man getting blood pressure checked at doctor’s office

When most people think of sleep apnea in Boca Raton, they think of snoring and fatigue. While both of those symptoms are certainly related to sleep apnea, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Untreated sleep apnea can have consequences for your entire body! In this post, we discuss some examples of how this common disorder could affect you from head to toe.

The Endocrine System

The endocrine system is a chemical messenger system that helps to regulate various functions throughout your body. Sleep apnea can interfere with the endocrine system’s functioning and result in insulin resistance. When your cells do not accept insulin like they should, you are more likely to suffer from high blood glucose levels. Eventually, type two diabetes could result.

The Cardiovascular System

Sleep apnea reduces blood oxygen levels, which can in turn lead to increased blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and other serious health conditions. In fact, according to one estimate by the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, sleep apnea is probably responsible for 38,000 cardiovascular deaths yearly.

The Digestive System

Sleep apnea has a strong correlation with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Part of the correlation may be due to the fact that sleep apnea and NAFLD have common risk factors, such as obesity. However, some studies have found that sleep apnea by itself can dramatically worsen NAFLD in some patients.

There is also a connection between sleep apnea and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In fact, one study found that 60 percent of individuals with obstructive sleep apnea also suffer from GERD.

The Reproductive System

It is common for men with sleep apnea to also suffer from erectile dysfunction. Women with sleep apnea often have reduced sexual desire. These issues may be due to the fact that the body produces testosterone during sleep, and testosterone plays a key role in libido in both men and women. Because sleep apnea results in fragmented, low-quality rest, it can negatively affect testosterone levels.

The Respiratory System

Because sleep apnea robs your body of oxygen during sleep, it can worsen asthma symptoms. It may also exacerbate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Such problems may become especially apparent when you try to engage in vigorous exercise.

The Bottom Line

The above information touches on just some of the repercussions that may come about due to untreated sleep apnea. If you even suspect you have a sleep disorder, seeking diagnosis and treatment is vital. Not only will you sleep better and have more energy, but you will also experience fewer health risks. Sleep apnea treatment could even save your life!

About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. He has helped countless patients in Boca Raton and nearby areas to find relief from obstructive sleep apnea through oral appliance therapy. If you would like to speak to Dr. Mogell to learn how you can achieve a better night’s rest, contact our team at 561-394-9000. 

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