Snoring occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your mouth relaxes enough to constrict the airway through your throat. This constriction causes the air you breathe to accelerate with sufficient force to vibrate the relaxed tissue. That vibration causes the characteristic sound of snoring.
On its own, it’s not necessarily a health problem, but snoring is a primary symptom of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, abbreviated as OSA. This is a potentially serious sleep disorder that, left untreated, can deteriorate your health in several ways.
When you suffer from OSA, visiting a certified otolaryngologist like Alexis Furze, M.D. is the smart move to stay ahead of the problem. Addressing OSA in its earliest stages helps to prevent the health complications that could follow.
When you have OSA, you actually stop breathing for short periods of time. Your brain wakes you up enough so that you move and re-start the breathing cycle. Sometimes, you may be aware of this brief period of disturbed sleep, but usually, you’re not.
Essentially, OSA occurs when relaxed tissue completely blocks your airway. Someone watching you sleep may notice that you undergo a loud snoring cycle that periodically stops and then restarts with a gulping or snorting sound.
Even when you’re not aware of these partial waking events, they are disturbing the natural rhythm of your sleep as well as interrupting the restorative cycle that provides time for your body to rest and rejuvenate. You may feel tired and listless throughout the day, even if your alarm clock assures you that you slept for eight hours or more.
The dangers of OSA
Going through your days without enough rest is never easy. Your perceptions and reactions can make simply navigating through your duties risky and more prone to accidents. Your mood and concentration can also suffer.
However, these immediate, short-term effects are only the beginning. Living with untreated sleep apnea contributes to some of the most serious health issues affecting the American population.
There’s a relationship between OSA and obesity. If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to have OSA, which in turn increases the danger of other conditions that are linked with obesity. The metabolic effects of OSA may make losing weight more difficult.
Even if you aren’t overweight, you might be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes. OSA is associated with high blood sugar levels, the marker that reveals prediabetes and diabetes. The complications of type 2 diabetes are many, including nerve damage, vision issues, and changes to your blood vessels.
OSA can cause sudden drops in blood oxygen levels, to which your body responds by increasing blood pressure. Blood pressure, in turn, raises your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. OSA could also result in heart arrhythmias, which are sometimes responsible for dangerous drops in blood pressure.
OSA is a potentially serious health problem, if not today then down the road. There is a range of treatments that can help break the cycle, including surgeries to improve your ability to breathe while asleep. Contact Alexis Furze, M.D. in Newport Beach to schedule a consultation about your sleep apnea condition. The future won’t wait, and neither should you. Call today.