Obstructive sleep apnea is when your airways get blocked or collapse while you are sleeping, which causes heavy snoring and recurring breathing pauses that lasts 10 to 20 seconds. Apnea is the Greek word for 'want of breath'. Due to this, the patient has poor sleep quality and that results in daytime drowsiness, feeling tired and lethargic. However, Dr Vikas Agarwal, ENT surgeon and sleep apnea specialist, Speciality ENT Hospital says if sleep apnea goes misdiagnosed and untreated for more than five years, it can result in these 8 major health complications.
Obesity: Sleeping problems contribute directly to obesity. In fact, studies have found that poor and disturbed sleep can affect your metabolism and also wreck havoc with your hormone levels. This is why sleep apnea patients are usually overweight or obese and have little or no motivation to exercise because of how tired and drowsy they feel throughout the day.
High blood pressure: Patients suffering from severe sleep apnea are at a greater risk of suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure. In fact, studies have found that over one-third of patients with hypertension have obstructive sleep apnea, says Dr Agarwal.
Low sex drive: Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea often complain of low sex drive or libido. Dr Agarwal says that disturbed sleeping patterns caused by sleep apnea can take a toll on your sex life in the long run.
Cardiac arrhythmia: In this condition, the patient suffers from irregular heartbeats that are either too fast or extremely slow. This condition can also be life threatening and doctors say there's a strong link between arrhythmia and sleep apnea. When the patient stops breathing during sleep for a few seconds, the heart rate also tends to drop, which causes low oxygen levels as well.
Depression and anxiety: Sleep apnea makes patients highly prone to depression and anxiety. Your sleeping patterns can directly affect your mental health and general well-being and because of extremely disturbed sleep, sleep apnea patients tend to suffer from these common mental ailments.
Congestive heart failure: Sleep apnea patients commonly suffer from atherosclerosis due to high blood pressure. In this condition, there are cholesterol deposits in the arteries, which causes obstruction in normal blood flow, says Dr Agarwal. 'If the patient continues to suffer from severe sleep apnea for years on end, heart diseases automatically follow and could also prove to be fatal,' adds Dr Agarwal.
Type-2 diabetes: Doctors have observed that there is a strong relationship between sleep apnea and diabetes. In fact, the International Diabetes Federation estimates 40% of patients with obstructive sleep apnea are at a risk of type-2 diabetes.
Memory loss: If sleep apnea is left untreated for several years on end, it can cause impaired cognitive functioning in the patient's old age and that also make them prone to Alzheimer's disease.