Monday, March 16, 2009

Can sleep apnea be fatal?

There are two common complaints about sleep apnea. One is the lack of rest that causes you to feel very tired in the morning. The other complaint is from your partner who has to endure the sound of gasping and grunting for air all night. These are big problems. But there are more serious consequences in leaving sleep apnea unchecked.

Sleep apnea occurs when there is blockage in the back of your throat. The blockage can be from soft tissue palate, tonsils, uvula or an enlarged tongue. The brain goes into action when the body stops receiving oxygen. You gasp for air and abruptly wake up. To a sleep apnea patient this may happen hundreds of times during one evening. You may go back to sleep for a few moments and then wake again gasping for air. This goes on and on.

The most serious problem is that you are depriving oxygen to your body. And that lack of oxygen can cause serious health issues such as heart disease, coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. If left untreated sleep apnea could lead to death.

On top of the physical consequences, someone who overly tired is more prone to be in a traffic accident.

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