Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition caused by a blockage in the airway during sleep. Many people are not aware they have the condition. Others only know when a partner or friend informs them they snore, gasp for air when sleeping or grind their teeth at night. If you have any of these classic symptoms of sleep apnea, it is important to see a specialist right away.
Frequently, people make the mistake of assuming because something is common, it must be harmless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Obstructive sleep apnea causes a whole host of serious problems and may be setting you up for an accident on the road or at work.
How OSA Affects Your Safety
Modern research shows that OSA is more than feeling drowsy or groggy in the morning. OSA can cause serious problems with memory, thinking skills and attention span. Overall, your brain becomes more limited in the way it processes information, and what it does process happens at a slower rate. This can mean you are not aware of things happening around you, and your reaction times may be slower. There are many reasons for this, including:
- Sleep deprivation/Insomnia
- Disrupted REM sleep
- Chronic low blood oxygen levels during the night
- Breakdown of brain tissues
This combination of slower processing and inattentiveness puts you at greater risk for car accidents and workplace injuries. It is not only your safety on the line – other drivers, your passengers and your coworkers are relying on you to help keep them safe. If you experience poor sleep, daytime drowsiness, headaches, dry morning mouth or chronic difficulty concentrating, talk to a professional about whether you may have sleep apnea.
Other Obstructive Sleep Apnea Complications
Accident and injury are only two of the serious conditions associated with OSA. Many of these are linked to the heart and cardiovascular system, as the difficulty breathing makes the heart work harder. Some of these OSA complications include:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Memory Loss and Dementia
- Links to certain cancers
Thankfully, sleep apnea can be well controlled with effective treatments and proper care. Treatments can include lifestyle and sleep modifications, as well as medical appliances to prevent episodes of apnea. If you believe you need treatment for a sleep disorder, contact the Atlanta Sleep Apnea Treatment Center today and protect your health and safety.
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