Article 2022 Apr 01

Complications associated with sleep apnea

Untreated sleep apnea can quickly worsen the severity and develop as obstructive sleep apnea, leading to devastating medical conditions and complications, including:

Daytime fatigue and sleepiness

Insomnia is a common side-effect of sleep apnea. Lack of sleep and proper recovery results in severe daytime drowsiness, physical and mental fatigue, and irritability. 

Moreover, we might have difficulty concentrating or falling asleep during work, leisure activities, and even driving, leading to accidents at work or in traffic.

The effect of sleep apnea is much worse for children and adolescents. The negative impact on their physical and mental development often leads to poor academic performance, character growth, and behaviour control. 

Cardiovascular problems

Prolonged exposure to low blood oxygen levels due to poor air intake during sleep increases blood pressure. Excess stress on the cardiovascular system can lead to high blood pressure - commonly referred to as hypertension - and significantly increase the risk of severe heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart failure and strokes.

Over time, untreated obstructive sleep apnea can develop below healthy blood pressure levels, leading to abnormal heart rhythms and arrhythmia, worsening existing heart diseases, and sudden deaths.

Medication and surgery-related complications

Medications that act as sedatives, narcotic analgesics, and general anaesthesia relax the upper airway and can lead to developing or worsening existing obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. 

Patients who had major surgeries involving being sedated or requiring long bed rest during recovery are at higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Sleeping in the prone position can improve obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. 

Eye problems

Studies found a correlation between glaucoma and obstructive sleep apnea, and this eye complication is treatable. 

Sleep-deprived partners

Loud snoring can significantly impact the sleep quality of the people around you and even cause disruptions in relationships.

Source: Sleep Apnea’s Symptoms & Health Risks | CanSleep