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People With Sleep Apnea are at Twice the Risk of Having a Traffic Accident

Sleep Apnea is one of those diseases that has a bite much worse than its bark.  While not seeming like a big deal, there’s enough evidence out there to suggest that it affects your mental health as much as your body.  Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid falling asleep at the wheel.

Brain drain

How can something as simple as a sleep disorder be so problematic?  Well, think of your body as a cell phone or laptop that needs regular charging.  Imagine if every time you needed recharging someone was unplugging and re-plugging the charger over and over rapidly.  Sleep apnea wreaks havoc with your body’s ability to regenerate lost energy.

Some of the physical ways it disrupts your body include:

  • Hypertension
  • Increases chance of obesity
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
  • GE Reflux
  • Headaches
  • Snoring

Those are just the immediate symptoms though.  The real damage is to your mental functions.  Besides constantly keeping your energy levels at a minimum and increasing your chances of developing a mood disorder or falling into a depression, sleep apnea can keep you from focusing when you need to most.

Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea are twice as likely to be involved in a traffic accident.  If everyone who had sleep apnea in the United States were treated, almost a thousand lives would be saved from related accidents per year!

Despite seeming like something you can live with for a little, there are many reasons you shouldn’t.  Sleep apnea can cause completely unrelated health issues to worsen dramatically.

Splash damage

Comorbidity is a fancy medical way of saying extra symptoms.  Well, it isn’t that simple but having sleep apnea certainly increases your chances of developing other conditions or worsening preexisting ones.

We mentioned mood and anxiety disorders along with depression but there are some pretty frightening physical comorbid associations too.  Cardiovascular conditions, stroke, diabetes, and obesity are all much more likely to appear or worsen with sleep apnea.

These risks all increase dramatically if your sleep apnea isn’t treated sooner rather than later.  Luckily, there are doctors who specialize in not only finding out how bad your sleep apnea is, but treating it as well.

The snooze button

Snoring and sleep apnea fall into the realm of the ear, nose and throat doctor or ENT for short.  An ENT can figure out whether you have sleep apnea at all to begin with and how severe it is if you do.  This assessment is usually carried out during something called a sleep study.

At Houston Sinus & Allergy, we assess patients for the severity of their condition, and determine a treatment. Book an assessment with our experienced ENT, Dr. Nguyen, and start feeling better.

Once you’ve had one, you and your ENT can discuss solutions.  Everything from physical sleeping aids to breathing machines can assist you in regaining your ability to sleep and wake up refreshed.  In some cases, even surgery can establish a long-term fix.

The key is checking.  Having an ENT look under the hood so to speak, your chances of being in an accident because of your sleep apnea will drop significantly.  That and waking up tired.

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