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Sleep apnea is a condition that affects regular breathing patterns while you sleep. In the worst cases, your airways are completely choked off, which causes you to stop breathing entirely for a short period of time. This medical condition, which is under-diagnosed, disrupts sleeping patterns to the point where it affects your physical and mental health.
There are a variety of detrimental health effects triggered by sleep apnea, but one of the most recent discoveries points to an unexpected downside that reduces your brain power. The UCLA school of nursing performed a study that revealed faulty breathing due to sleep apnea leads to a reduction of oxygen levels in the blood. Dr. Paul Macey of ULA stated that “We know there is injury to the brain from sleep apnea and we also know that the heart has problems pumping blood to the body and potentially also to the brain.”
Conducting an examination of the brain through the global blood volume and oxygen dependent signal, the research team found that those with sleep apnea have difficulty with the circulation of blood through the brain. As a result, when researchers tested nerve response, they found that the brain’s response was slowed.
Another study by UCLA also showed that memory is severely affected by sleep apnea. The cells that are involved in creating and storing memories become damaged, with the corresponding section of the brain shrunken by about 20% compared to those who don’t have sleep apnea.
While the cognitive effects of sleep apnea are still being discovered, the effects of this condition and not being able to get restful sleep also devastates the body. One of the most common health complications caused by this condition is high blood pressure, also called hypertension.
Some of the most serious health conditions spurred by sleep apnea are type 2 diabetes and heart disease. As many as 80% of people with diabetes suffer from sleep apnea, while those with apnea are more likely to suffer from a heart attack. Other common complications include a higher risk of obesity and heart attacks.
Sometimes, people who snore a lot of suffer from excessive daytime fatigue shrug it off without considering that these symptoms may be pointing to sleep apnea. If you believe that you may be dealing with this condition, visiting a sleep apnea specialist at Houston Sinus & Allergy can make a huge difference in the quality of your physical and cognitive health.
Getting enough sleep is vital for everyone. Without allowing your body to rest and recharge, you’re not able to properly function to your full potential during the day.
At Houston Sinus & Allergy, we assess patients for the severity of their condition, and determine a sleep apnea treatment that will allow for a restful sleep. Learn about the treatments we provide that have helped countless patients with sleep apnea, or book an assessment with our experienced ENT, Dr. Nguyen, and start sleeping well again.