What are some problems caused by an undiagnosed sleep apnea?
- Brain Fog
- Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
- Health Problems WHICH ONES?
What is brain fog?
A cognitive dysfunction that involves memory problems and lack of mental clarity.
Sleep apnea can have a huge effect on your ability to think clearly during the day. After so many episodes of interrupted sleep due to disrupted breathing your mind becomes hazy.
Due to disrupted breathing the amount of oxygen going to your brain goes down and this causes damage to brain cells. When this happens there is memory loss and an increase in depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety along with post traumatic stress disorder are already been proven to be comorbid with sleep apnea. These conditions can result in sleep disturbances.
Sleep apnea along with brain fog can cause excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS.
What is excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)?
A condition that causes excessive drowsiness during the day due to lack of sleep at night.
EDS can result in a patient not being able to:
- Pay attention
- Stay awake
These symptoms can result in some potentially dire consequences such as:
- Falling asleep while driving
- Work-related accidents
- Poorer health
Some patients have gotten into motor vehicle accidents due to falling asleep at the wheel. When this happens they can get injured and also injure others. Also, due to ongoing brain fog along with EDS a patient may not remember falling asleep behind the wheel and causing an accident.
Work-related accidents occur due to EDS. It caused you to react slower and make more mistakes. An example of the devastation effects of sleep deprived workers occurred:
Three Mile Island: The accident that occurred in 1979 at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania at 4:00 am. It was linked to sleep deprived overnight workers that failed to respond to a mechanical problem that almost resulted in a meltdown.
Chernobyl: One of the most devastating industrial accidents occured in 1986 at 1:30 am at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Along with mechanical failure sleep deprived overnight workers were partly to blame also.
Exxon Valdez: Human error caused by sleep deprived workers may have played a role in this devastating oil spill that happened in 1989 in Alaska.
The Space Shuttle Challenger: One of the worst accidents in NASA’s history occurred in 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch. Sleep deprived flight center managers were working irregular hours on very little sleep when this accident occurred.
What are some of the health conditions caused by sleep apnea?
- High blood pressure: A condition in which the force of the blood against the walls of arteries is too high. When blood pressure reads 130/80 a patient has hypertension and it’s severe when blood pressure reads 180/120. Someone with high blood pressure may feel like they have a pounding feeling in their head or chest and may feel dizzy and lightheaded. Someone else may not have any symptoms at all and go years without knowing they have the condition.
- Increased risk of developing diabetes: Diabetes is a disease in which your body doesn’t properly process food for use as energy. This happens when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar is too high.
- Weight gain: Sleep apnea can lead to weight gain. While you sleep hormone levels that play a role in how hungry or full are regulated. This process is disrupted by sleep deprivation and when this happens you’ll reach for sugary drinks and caffeinated beverages will help you stay awake but will cause you to gain weight.
- Weakened immunity: Sleep apnea can negatively affect the immune system. If you are sleep deprived you are more likely to get colds and flu.
- Poor balance: Sleep apnea can cause a disruption in postural stability. What is postural stability? The ability to maintain an upright position. Sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can disturb postural stability by increasing the risk for falls.
- Risk of Heart Disease: Sleep apnea if left untreated can cause heart attacks. Low oxygen and the stress of frequently being woken up can affect how the brain controls the flow of blood into your arteries. Sleep apnea is also linked to strokes and atrial fibrillation (A fast, fluttering heart).
Do you know anybody who has a sleep apnea related health problems?
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